Seminary's at our house this year, and we couldn't be happier.
And not just because that means we don't have to drive our high school freshman daughter to somebody else's house.
Seminary was held in our house before, back in the fall of 1992, the first full year we lived in Summit Ward. Our firstborn, Geoffrey, would get himself up, turn off the house alarm, turn on the lights and open the doors. My wife and I didn't even have to get out of bed, though usually Kristine was up before seminary was over.
Then, after two years with other teachers, my wife was called to teach seminary and continued through five years. Seminary only moved out of our
house when Kristine was called to teach institute instead.
Seminary left its mark on our house literally. There's a dark line on one wall where chairs got bumped up against it, day after day for seven school years.
We also learned to make some rules. For instance, nobody was allowed to sit on the couch it was too soft and too deep, and hardly anybody was able to get through seminary awake while sitting there.
Now, after eight years as stake Relief Society president, Kristine is back teaching just in time for our youngest. This gives us a perfect record we never had to drive our kids anywhere before 6 in the morning.
And since I was never the teacher, I mostly saw the seminary kids when I stayed up working (or not working) really late the night before.
There were adventures like when the sprinkler system reset itself and came on right when a big bunch of the kids were walking to the front door.
Or the time Geoffrey groggily punched the wrong code into the alarm system and summoned the police. Not a SWAT team, despite how the legend has grown.
And as a very young child, our youngest used to sneak down and sit at the foot of the stairs, just out of sight, listening to the lessons. A seminary spy. Now she gets to be in the room.
This year it's New Testament and Kristine was relieved that this time around the Church Educational System (CES) manuals don't try to "harmonize" the gospels.
It's just too confusing to keep skipping from book to book in the New Testament. Much better to take the gospels in order, one at a time, so everyone can read straight through the New Testament and stay right with the rest of the class.
The class began again as it always does, with a review of the plan of salvation, so that everything in the scripture can be viewed through that lens.
Kristine has always given her classes a "quiz" at the end of that first week, consisting of each student drawing their own graphic rendition of the stages of the plan.
She keeps them so it was fun for her to pull out examples from a decade ago just to show what's possible. Jon Lewis, for instance, now a senior in high school, got to see his older brother Jason's drawing.
(Our youngest daughter would have seen what her older brother and sister drew, but apparently they took theirs with them when they left home.)
Fortunately, the assignment does not depend on artistic talent (though you aren't penalized for it, either). These are graphics, not art, and you can use labels if the art doesn't communicate the full idea.
A lot of kids had fun with spirit prison. One drew and labeled his high school to represent the concept. Paradise, of course, was represented by more than one tropical island.
Most drew planet Earth to represent mortality, "where," as Kristine said, "we all live."
Well, this year, Augustine Cortes, remembering a song that says where "we all live," represented mortality on his drawing with a yellow submarine.
(And in the priests quorum class the next Sunday, when I was talking about marriage and said, "That's what it's all about," it conjured up a song even older than "Yellow Submarine." I challenge anyone to make a coherent medley out of that combination of tunes.)
I'm not going to get mystical and talk about the "spirit" that these faithful teenagers bring to our home. Our feelings are entirely subjective, the direct result of having them here.
When I look at our living room, chairs arranged for seminary class, I see my home through their eyes, or as I imagine they see it.
Because they study the gospel here, our home is a place of learning.
Because they pray here, they experience our home as a house of prayer.
Because they sing a hymn each day, it's a house of song.
Because they come so early and reshape their lives so they can take part in seminary, it's a place of righteous sacrifice.
Because they laugh together and help each other understand and provide rides for each other, because there are waiting parents at our kitchen table for the 50 minutes of class, and because they are kind, it is a house of love.
Those ideas would never appear in a real-estate listing. It doesn't add a dime to the cash value of our house.But our house never feels so much like home to me as when the seminary students come.
Orson Scott Card is a writer of nonfiction and fiction, from LDS works to popular fiction. "In the Village" appears Thursdays in the Deseret News. Leave feedback for Card online at www.nauvoo.com/contact_desnews.html.