Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Foretaste of Zion

Today in Sunday School, the teacher shared a very intimate, painful story, as an example of the healing that is possible through the Atonement. Later, she told me she hadn't been planning to share the story, and was a bit surprised at herself having shared it. I said I wished such sharing were possible more often; I wished people felt safe enough to be able to share in such a way. And she said, sometimes its not even a question of whether others will accept such sharing, it's a question of being able to process one's own feelings about something in such a way as to be able to even speak about it.

We sat next to each other in Sacrament Meeting. I felt as if a real bond had been created between us through our discussion of pain, and sharing, and of the miracle of healing we have experienced through the Atonement, and of the presence of the Spirit as we discussed such things in class. I am so grateful for this sister, for the loving kindness, the sweetness she has always shown toward me.

I'm often so aware of my status as an outsider; I'm reminded of it every time individuals are sustained in callings and I can't raise my hand; whenever the Sacrament tray passes me by and I can't partake. I've always felt the Spirit at Church; I've always felt like I belonged in some spiritual sense. But still...

But this sister has always made me feel deeply as if that didn't matter. She's made that inner spiritual reality of belonging visible and objective through her loving kindness toward me. And that was manifested to me this morning as we sang the hymns together -- the way our voices harmonized.

As we sang the Sacrament hymn, I looked up around me. I saw the bishop and his counselors and the speakers singing together up on the stand. I looked around me. All these people I know as people, people I know in their quirks and individuality; some very present, some distracted; yet, all gathered. I watched the priests breaking the bread, one of them reverently singing the hymn along with the rest of us from memory. ("In humility, our Savior....") I felt this tremendous love and forgiveness washing over all of us, as one body. It didn't matter where we'd been. Somehow that love would unite us. Somehow we'd find a way to all get there together. We were each trying in our own way the best we knew how, and the grace of God could cover the rest. And there was this sister, singing with me; our voices blending beautifully together in praise of the love of Jesus.

I was overcome by the beauty of it. I had to stop singing for just a moment, to catch my breath, and steady my voice.

I'm glad I was in Church today!

5 comments:

Neal said...

John,

Your posts have made me cry more than any other blogger (the good kind of cry)! Thank you.

Matthew said...

The grace of God is indeed sufficient. What a marvelous experience of Zion, thank you for sharing it.

J G-W said...

Neal, Matthew, thanks!

recover and thrive said...

what a great experience!! That is why I go to church- to feel the spirit and be one with God and if I'm lucky to have a moment of oneness with others. The hymns always do it for me

J G-W said...

R&T - That's the bottom line for me too. Feeling the Spirit, being reminded of my commitments, and building loving connections with the Saints. That sort of overrides everything else for me.

I'm occasionally tempted to feel discouraged or jaded about Church. But when I actually go, I feel the Spirit; and I catch the vision of what Christ intends the Church to be, and of what my role is in helping the Church to become that... And I realize there is no place I would rather be.