6/10/2009

pilgrimclassic: because of my weakness

Feeling the need to republish this "classic" piece due to recent happenings. Perhaps my true sadness is that this church continues to provoke such strong feelings of frustration and disappointment, just when I think I've made "peace" with it. I want to say some more and to really vent, but I'll hold off. It's just not even worth wasting my time on, methinks.

The acknowledgment of our weakness
is the first step in repairing our loss.
~Thomas Kempis

While I was at the Sunstone Symposium in August, sitting in a session about women and the Mormon church, I had to fight the urge to flee the room.

In sitting there I realized that the rationales, the angst, and the pain of gender inequity--those were the things that I'd been so relieved to leave behind when I stopped attending LDS church. Being confronted with them again was repulsive and pulled me back to that dark place where I'd been a few years ago: a sort of dark cave where I felt stranded. Where I couldn't see how god could bless an institution that was so biased, so short-sighted. And at the same time afraid of the pain that would come to me and to my extended family should I choose to walk away.

As these thoughts ran through my mind I felt a pendulum of emotion shifting to and fro inside of me and I was on the verge of tears. And then I realized something about myself...I'm just not one of the "strong ones" who can continue on in the LDS church while being fully aware all of its flaws. My soul and my spirit just aren't up for the task. I am too weak. Too fragile. I need a spiritual home where I am buoyed and supported and affirmed. The dissonance of being Mormon was literally ripping my spirit into pieces. I felt no hope there.

For me, the move to practicing as a Quaker is not just transferring my allegiance to a new religious institution. It's about adopting a spiritual practice and community based on the yearnings of my heart and not based on my pedigree and my upbringing. It's a choice for comfort and peace. It's laying down the struggle of trying to fit into the LDS mold--the continued abrasiveness of being a square peg that can't adapt to the expectations and orthodoxies of Mormonism. It's about recognizing my own weakness and accepting it.

The Mormon founder, Joseph Smith, compared his spiritual journey to that of a rough stone rolling down a mountain. He saw each of his experiences as chipping away at himself, smoothing away his raw edges. Me, I'm not up for a similar trajectory, or perhaps my body has just had enough trauma. I'm seeking an angle of repose.

Let me quote from a favorite author who has walked a similar path:
Spirituality is solitary...At times, it is lonely, often informed by pain. On other occasions, it is the body submerged in a phosphorescent tide, every movement sparking a trail of illumination. Afterwards, we sit on the shore in moonlight. No candles are necessary. Spirituality exists when we are present, buoyed up by the waters of attention. We learn the courage of faith. It is peace that is earned. We can take solace in the heat of doubt knowing this is the pulse of poetry.
~Terry Tempest Williams, Leap (2000)

9 comments:

Aerin said...

With all due respect for people who are (and are not) currently mormon, I disagree with your characterization of strength. For some people, staying mormon despite the knowledge they have may show strength. For others, formally resigning or stopping to attend may also show strength.

What is strong (IMO) is living with integrity - practicing what you preach.

It's unfortunate that the mormon church has chosen to be so draconian about the process. My thoughts are with you and your family at this time.

Chandelle said...

Jana, I'm so sorry that your family has to endure this indignity. It seems unfair that the Church is invading your space in this way. But there are so many people on your side who love you for what you say, who feel inspired by your intentions and the ideals by which you guide your life, and all of those people will be supporting you, however this turns out.

Gary said...

Faith (belief) is individual, I think, and only reinforced by the corporate. I'm Roman Catholic, a convert to the church long before the revelations of abuse and the ugly cover-ups of that abuse. I'm still a member, for reasons I need not go into here. I cling to "The Truth" that there is some revelation of the message of the Christ evident in my (meaning the Roman Catholic) church that has been obscured by the sins of all the clerics who rejected it.

That has nothing to do, of course, with the Latter Day Saints other than to explain my faith that God is only present in acts of love, charity, and empathy.

G said...

I'm with aerin in that I so do not believe you are weak. at all. You're smart and in tune and following the path you feel guided in. And that takes strenght
you are strong and powerful.

just no longer needing to prove it in lds terms.

littlemissattitude said...

Jana...I dropped a comment over at Mind on Fire, and I want to do that here too, just to reiterate that I am honored to be able to call you and John my friends, and I stand with you in this.

Elaine

Kristen said...

Echoing the sentiment that you are not weak. I am continually amazed by what I read here, and you and your family inspire me to try and be a better person.

I need a spiritual home where I am buoyed and supported and affirmed.

That is not weakness. (That is what a church, temple, faith -whatever you call it - is supposed to do.)

Maureen said...

"A friendly invitation to be excommunicated"?!? If the LDS excommunication rules are anything like the Catholic ones, this is a pretty extreme measure! And how "friendly" can I be if I maintain a pleasant disposition while telling you you're being kicked out of a community!

I only recently discovered your blog, but I've been consistently impressed with your grace and good humor in the face of a world not designed for, and often oblivious to, amputees. That kind of integrity takes a certain inner strength. We're all praying for you & your family.

Kathryn Quick said...

Oh dear. I'm sorry to hear that this is rearing its head again. Let us know what we can do to stand by you, however you choose to handle this.

Alisa said...

I always love this post. I've sent it to many people. Thank you for writing it. It's lovely.