The last time I had attended the Mormon Miracle pageant was when I was back in high school. Now that I am married and have two young daughters, fond memories of that time came back to me and I wondered why, after all these years, my family had never attended. As I broached the subject with my husband in the summer of 2010, he also recalled going years ago and joined in my enthusiasm for planning our own trip.
I had to confess that I didn't remember very much about the pageant itself from my first experience, and so I wasn't exactly sure how to explain it to my children. I told them it was the dramatization of events from both church history and Book of Mormon stories and that they would be played out on the hillside below the Manti temple with the help of hundreds of volunteers. We'd sit on chairs wrapped in blankets to keep us warm, and for some reason I remembered they sold hot chocolate nearby.
Now we were all excited, which helped somewhat with the long drive down the Wasatch Front, through the rugged Spanish Fork Canyon and past what seemed like one farm after another. As we arrived in Manti, I was amazed at how busy it was. I'm sure the population of the small town had doubled, if not tripled. We got our bearings, and not too bad of a parking spot, on the west side of town.
As we walked toward the visible landmark of the temple, we paused at the numerous booths and shops that had been set up. It was very festive, and for the most part there was a very positive energy in the air. Of course, it's impossible to have such a large gathering of members of the LDS faith without their anti-Mormon counterparts. But their negativity was swallowed up in the faithful group that was making its way to the pageant.
While we sat under a clear sky, anticipation growing, various missionaries and cast members in full regalia began to visit with the crowd. We had fun taking pictures with them but were more excited when it finally grew dark. As a full moon rose above the Sanpete mountains behind us, it began.
From the first scene to the last, we were enthralled. Familiar stories came to life on that hillside in front of us. Joseph Smith's vision seemed so real in its simplicity, and the Lamanite/Nephite battles were believable in their magnitude. But the most touching scene was undoubtedly the portrayal of the Savior's visit among the Nephites. And in the end, the reminder that this life is only part of our journey tied all of the previous scenes together firmly in our hearts and minds.
By the time we arrived at our hotel in Nephi it was midnight, and my husband and I were exhausted. Our two girls were asleep in the backseat, their heads tilted together at precarious angles. But as we reached in to lift them out, our youngest looked up at me with sleepy eyes and said, "Can we do this again next year?"
It seemed a new family tradition was about to begin.
Kim is the author of two novels with Covenant Communications, including the recently released "Abish: Mother of Faith". Visit her at www.kcgrant.com.