About a month or so ago, I was talking with this guy in my FHE group who's in one of the univeristy choirs and he told me that President Hinckley was coming for Devotional on the 31st and that day was today. They didn't publicly announce that the prophet was coming until yesterday, but it spread pretty well by word-of-mouth. On my way to my 8 o'clock class, I saw that the parking garage right next to the Tanner was already completely full and traffic was already backed up on the road up by the Marriott Center.
After my Book of Mormon class (of which only half the class attended), I made my way to the Marriott Center in the continuous stream of people from campus. I got there and not surprisingly it was already way packed. Fortunately, some of my friends from the ward went early and there were still seats next to them, so I got super stellar seats--we were sitting seven rows up from the floor on the side that President Hinckley came out of!!
I've never had an experience like it: as soon as the people on the stand stood up when the prophet came in, the entire, and I mean all how-many-ten-thousand people, in a second were completely silent and stood. Just like that every person in the Marriott Center was dead quiet. It was awesome (in the literal sense of the word). Instantly the entire spirit of the room changed. Once the prophet was on the floor and sitting down, there was little talking and everyone just listened to the prelude music from the organ. There was a focused intensity in the room, everyone fixated on the center of the floor where our prophet sat. We sang "Teach Me to Walk in the Light" and normally it gets off a little (probably because of the acoustics), but this morning everyone was together. The Hinckleys' grandson gave the invocation and then President Hinckley stepped up to the podium.
He is such an amazing man; he got up and made a joke about it being Halloween and then directed our attention to his festive tie--it was so cute! He then proceeded to tell us stories that impacted his life, stories running the gamut from personal experiences to historical events. Some were funny, some somber, but all contributing in some way to President Hinckley's life. He concluded by encouraging us all to record those experiences and thoughts and impressions that mold our character and create our lives, to write down those "experiences worth remembering." He also emphasized that this time as students is the best time to find an eternal companion, one with whom to share those shaping experiences.
As he was leaving, he waved with his cane to all the sections of the stadium (is that what it is?) and was smiling the whole time. As he left, once again everyone stood. He left through the portal closest to our section and since I was so close to the floor I got an up close view! He was still smiling and waving as he left and right before he walked out sight, he looked up to our section, caught my eye, and smiled!!!! It was so amazing! I got that feeling I frequently get whenever I think of our prophet, the feeling that he would know my name if he saw me. I know he doesn't, but I feel like he would, like he loves me as Charlotte, as opposed to loving me as a member of the Church. President Hinckley is such an amazing man, he really is. When he entered the stadium and when he left, tears came to my eyes because I'm so grateful for him, so grateful for a living prophet on the earth. I'm so grateful for his love, for his stalwartness, for his personality and Halloween ties!
He truly is an emissary from God and when you're in the same room as President Hinckley, you feel his power, you feel his spirit. When we all stood in respect for the prophet, when everyone fell completely silent, I couldn't help but cry; there was such a spirit of unity, of oneness. I felt so safe and so loved by the prophet and by our Heavenly Father. This was such an amazing day for me. This was an experience I want to tell my children, I want to always remember. I mean, seriously: how many people can say the prophet looked them in the eye and smiled? There's just something about being in the same physical space as a prophet of God that is so overwhelming and humbling. I can't even begin to adequately describe it. I purposely dressed up (no not for Halloween) for the prophet today (and while my feet are killing me, I figure it was worth it!). I'll never forget today, never forget those feelings I felt in the Marriott Center as the prophet addressed our campus. It was so amazing. Just amazing.
Have any of you had experiences when general authorities have come to speak?