We sojourned in the wilderness for seven years, spending years of famine and frustration in small apartments. Our children learned to play indoors; our driving skills deteriorated. Worst of all, we neglected our food storage.
Of course there were lessons now and then in Priesthood or Sunday School. A lesson on food storage in New York City, though, is a lesson on sunbathing in Antarctica. Random members would opine about the merits of building beds and chairs out of number ten cans. We would all nod politely and try to pretend like they weren’t freaks.
At the end of the day, we managed to jam a few dozen twelve-ounce cans of corn and beans and pears into a tiny hallway closet. This was our food storage, and we proudly showed it to all who asked, basking in its greatness. We lived with secret shame, though. Our feeble efforts didn’t really fool anyone, least of all us. We remembered the parables of our youth, and the ancient adages. If you don’t have wheat, you might as well be a Jehovah’s Witness.
July found us en route to California — a new job, a new home, a new life. And for our food storage, a return to the fountain of our youth. Like riding a bike, food storage is something one never quite forgets how to do. Within days, a row of five-gallon buckets had sprung up with descriptions like “sugar, 7/2005” written in red magic marker on their lids. Mountains of moving boxes remained unopened, but we had our sugar in buckets. I felt like a Mormon again.
It is a sacrament to pour beans or sugar into a bucket; it is an ablution to stack and balance pallets of canned corn and fruit and beans. Our provisioning ceremonies are a rite that marks us in our mormonness, a frontlet before our eyes. And like the bloody sacrifices performed by priests of old, this ritual is one that ends in our stomachs.
Our sojourn in the wilderness is over. We have found the promised land, and it is a land of milk — powdered — and honey. They sit together, in five-gallon buckets, in the garage.