Guest Post: Calling Home
Along with so many others, I listened to Dallin Oaks deliver his recent Saturday general conference address with a mix of sorrow and horror. His message—undoubtedly intended to move the rank and file to a greater commitment to the church—had the additional effect of further marginalizing untold numbers of souls who can never fit the narrow gender and marriage definitions he spelled out. This must have been how Obi-Wan felt the moment Alderaan was blasted apart by the death star, as if millions of voices had suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.
As I watched the online expressions of sorrow, grief, and fury grow to a roiling crescendo over the following hours, I finally had to acknowledge the sense of having been shoved ever closer to the outer fence line of my own cultural and religious identity. I was already struggling and arguing with myself about whether to stay or leave. Less than two weeks ago I sent an email to a trusted devoutly LDS friend, begging him to help me find a way to reconcile my nearly two hundred years of Mormon heritage with what the church looks like today. He apparently did not know what to say to me, because he hasn’t written back. And now this. Oaks’ message to me was “you don’t fit, you can’t fit, and God doesn’t want you.” That may not have been what he thought he meant, but that was the message he sent. I got it, loud and clear.
Later that evening, I was processing what—if anything—to do with this re-emphasis on my misfit status. My personal news feeds continued to light up with new posts from others who felt the same cosmic shift I had felt when another shift hit: faithful sisters started to announce that they were following the prophet’s counsel to go cold turkey on social media for the next ten days. Amid the threads piling up with discussion of this double whammy, yet another cry for help surfaced from one who was also suffering, trying to find some shred of hope, a spiritual lifeline to cling to.
At first I thought “I’ve got nothin’, I feel exactly the same way.” I found myself feeling profoundly grateful for the internet and the otherwise unlikely connections the world wide web gives us as individuals. I was especially grateful right then that one person who was in pain knew someone would be watching if she sent up a flare; someone somewhere would see her and understand her distress and offer comfort. I was grateful that she had attended to her own needs, grateful she had depended on her own inspiration and understanding. I was grateful that she had exercised her option to seek solace with kindred spirits rather than cutting off her telecommunications, and found myself trying to think of something I could say to her that would ease her sorrow. In that moment, a message came to me in crystal clear and finished form. It rushed in and demanded to be shared with my new friend-I’ve-never-met and with anyone else who may be searching for a light at the end of this long dark tunnel. It came to me with instructions to share, so now I’m sharing it with you. This is the message:
It’s branding season again.
Molten tears searing, surging,
struggle to fill the gaping wound in my soul,
topple from their flooded precipice,
plummeting to perdition
before they can find their mark.
My sonic screams reach heaven.
– ever tuned to hear distress above the din –
Tenderly, so tenderly,
cloaks my broken heart
With a lullaby:
“Let them have their rules,
You need not fit, nor bend
To heartless will.
Rise, breathe, live.
You never were and are not theirs.
You are mine.”
There it was: the spark I had been looking for, the reason to keep listening and thinking, solid manifestation of the divine feminine that stands ready to help us all in our darkest hours and to celebrate with us in our moments of joy. Her message helped me. My friend said it helped her. I hope it helps others. If she sends me any more messages, I promise to keep in touch so I can share them with you, too.
Malena Crockett is a novelist, a poet, a memoirist, and a sixth generation descendant of Mormon pioneer emigrants. She keeps one finger on the pulse of contemporary Mormonism, and writes of her own and her ancestors’ experiences as participants in the evolution of nearly two centuries of Mormon faith and community. Her web site is www.MalenaCrockett.com