20 December 2008

Strikes When You Least Expect It - Ain't It Great?

One of life's greatest pleasures is to discover after the fact that you just might have had a little inspiration strike when you didn't even recognize it, and you only see how things fell into place from the rear view mirror. I am no pillar of exemplary spirituality, but have been lucky enough to have had this happen to me a few times. And it happened again tonight. My heart is dancing.

On the way home from a busy day, it suddenly occurred to me that I should stop at a nearby mall to look for one last-minute Christmas present. I hadn't previously planned to do this, but went with the inpulse. After breaking the 10th Commandment at the Apple Store while hefting an iPod Touch, I walked past a large central plaza and saw a fairly good-sized group of people standing in a big circle round the fountain in the middle. They stood quietly, holding candles and with signs pinned to their shirts that said something about equal rights. But nothing more specific. Curious, I approached and asked the purpose for the vigil.

The woman I approached said in a very kind and soft voice that they were there to protest the passage of Proposition 8, to let all its supporters know that they and this issue were not going away, and that they wanted to make a peaceful public statement.

I extended my hand, took hers, and said “I am an active Mormon, and I apologize for everything that has been done by my church to perpetuate hostility and misunderstanding. We are not all like that; many disagreed with the directive from Salt Lake which was extremely troubling to lots of us, and it has caused tremendous conflict within the church membership that you would not otherwise hear about. But there are lots of us who support you, so don't let the media's focus persuade you otherwise.”

A group instantly gathered around me. They interrupted each other to say over and over “Thank you, thank you thank you, that gives us hope.” I told them of my children who, when Proposition 8 was explained to them, recoiled and instantly recognized its unfairness. The group gathered round me were amazed and touched, and said “that is the future we rely on to bring more charity and tolerance to the world.”

Then came the part for which I later wondered whether I had been sent there. One young woman interrupted the others and said “I can't tell you how much it means to me to hear you say these things. My father's family is all Mormon, and they have cut off all contact with me ever since my dad died eight years ago.” Clearly this young woman was a lesbian and had been completely ostracized by her active Mormon family. I told her that her family was wrong to do that, and she should not lose heart. She was nearly in tears as she said “Hearing you say these things gives me hope that maybe things will change in my family.”

I shook hands with several of them, again assured them that there were many Latter-day Saints who shared their dreams of tolerance and equality, told them to keep their chins up and their candles lit, wished them all a Merry Christmas, and headed to my car.

In Doc. & Cov. 81:5, the Savior instructs us to “lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.” I am elated and humbled to think the Spirit may have whispered today to someone as flawed and fallible as me, in order to point me to another child of God whose hands were low and knees were weak and whose heart yearned for her family, so that she would be comforted and gain renewed hope for the future. As I said above, my heart dances still. And thus we see that God truly is mindful of all His children.


October Rising said...

Wow! That was an incredible thing for you to do! :)

Sarah said...

Wow, too. Spiritual moment of the day for me so far. Thanks for sharing.

There is much work to do, and God is helping us do it, one person at a time.

Ezra said...

That's amazing Alan,

I know so many memembers who feel like us, gay and straight, and they are our future.

We are building Zion when we lift each other up.

Sean said...

Thanks for sharing your experience.

Z i n j said...

A touching post...no doubt you have listened to the still small voice and touched the lives of the needful. A Chrsitmas gift...a spiritual gift...thanks

Romulus said...

As we also stand up for what we believe in, our light will shine and inspire others. Good work!

Bravone said...

Alan, I was touched by your post. You are a great example of helping heal wounded hearts. Thanks for sharing this experience with us.

J G-W said...

Thanks for that... Hopeful for me too..!

Beck said...

So many opportunities are placed before us in our paths if we but choose to see them and embrace them. Thus, the need to be in tune with spiritual promptings... I don't believe these "opportunities" are left to chance and simply coincidences.

Thanks for embracing the moment!