"Mommy, can you tell me the story of when I was born?"
As I smiled and sunk into the familiar story, which I have told each of my children dozens of times, I watched their little faces. As I told of the pain of labor, little worry lines would appear between their eyebrows. They laugh at me as I reenact my groans of pain going over small bumps in the road and my ogre-like hollering as I went through active labor. But then comes the important part, for them, as I describe what it felt like when they finally entered the world, the look in their small dark eyes as they opened for the first time, how it felt to hold the perfect, tiny, new human being. I tell them what their eyes said to me, the way they smelled, how it felt when they took them away from me for the first time. I tell them how special they were to me, how I felt to be a mother. I watch their eyes light up, their faces relax in satisfaction at knowing how loved they have always been.
They know how the story ends. They don't ask me to tell it because they want to hear the story. Rather, they need the message in the story and what it means regarding my connection to them, and theirs to me.
The Church has its stories, too. From the sacrament table to the altars of the temple, ritual story permeates our religious life. Long after we have memorized all the lines, the power of these stories gives us the chance to read the messages in the story. Learning about Adam and Eve, their choice in the Garden, the Atonement that was planned from the beginning, the stories of Jesus, the Nephite saga, all these stories hold the message of God's love, and of "how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive [the stories] . . . ."
As we listen to the stories and draw them into our hearts, ponder them and make them ours, we gain the wisdom we need to interpret the promptings of the Holy Spirit, the dealings of the leadership of the Church, the context we need to live our lives, and the confidence in the Lord's love that we need to enable us to walk by faith.
Just as the stories of my children's births remind them of the joy and connection I feel for them, the stories of Heaven teach us to sense our connection to our Heavenly Parents. And that is precious.