Sunday, November 9, 2008

Where Can I Turn for Peace?

Emotionally, this has been a tough week for me.

Sister H., a native Lakota woman in my ward, is one of the few members who, from the beginning, seemed to notice that I was there. The first time we spoke, she just said in a very gentle way, "I haven't seen you around here before..." I explained that I had been excommunicated years ago, but was coming back to the Church. Every once in a while since then, she stops me in the hall to ask how I am doing. She gives hugs and smiles, and promises to keep me in her prayers, for which I'm always grateful. The spirit of these interactions has always been warm, caring, and non-invasive. I've always felt her interactions with me coming from a place of genuine love.

Today at church, this sister bore her testimony. She bore it first in her native Lakota tongue, and then in English. She spoke about some of the trials her faith has come through, and she finished with a simple statement about what it has meant to her to keep the faith. It was a beautiful testimony in itself, but for me the beauty of it was magnified because of the way all her past kindnesses to me were witnesses of the reality of her faith.

The closing hymn (LDS hymnal, #129) seemed to me as if it had been written specifically for me, today:

Where can I turn for peace? Where is my solace
When other sources cease to make me whole?
When with a wounded heart, anger, or malice,
I draw myself apart, searching my soul?

Where, when my aching grows, Where, when I languish,
Where, in my need to know, where can I run?
Where is the quiet hand to calm my anguish?
Who, who can understand? He, only One.

He answers privately, Reaches my reaching
In my Gethsemane, Savior and Friend.
Gentle the peace he finds for my beseeching.
Constant he is and kind, Love without end.

By the last half of the final verse, I had lost my voice.

I was grateful for the quiet, loving presence of my new-found friend Reuben and his wife, who were sitting there next to me. After the closing prayer, I found this dear sister who had born her testimony, Sister H. I thanked her for her testimony, and asked if I could hug her. Then I wept in her arms. I felt she knew better than most what I was going through, and she had shown me she cared, and I was so grateful for her right then and there.

I don't know where or how the journey will end, but I am grateful for the friends I find along the way. My heart is broken over the role the Church played in the passage of Proposition 8. But the Lord has answered me "privately" as the hymn says, has "reached my reaching." And what sustains me is the knowledge that some day the Church will be perfected, and the things that divide us will pass away.


Blue said...

that is and always has been one of my favorite hymns.

i stumbled here through a comment you left on Steven Marsh'sEthesis blog. You amaze me, and the few things i've read here have restored a modicum of hope in me for things i'd kind of given up hoping for.

my all time favorite hymn is how firm a foundation. i've never once been in a congregation that sang the last 4 verses, but they have sustained me through much.

hang in there Young Stranger. Your experiences are strangely comforting and touching. Thank you for writing about them.

J G-W said...

Thanks, Blue. That means very much to me. I too LOVE the hymn How Firm a Foundation. I've actually even blogged about it... The hymns of the Church are a blessing... I've been blessed many times by singing the songs of the LDS hymnal, both privately and in Church.