FROM SWEETNESS TO SALT
It is taught that Lot’s wife was turned to salt, and in a sense, I was too. When I “looked back” at the history of the LDS Church, the chemistry of my belief was altered. What had been sweet and trusting in me became salt, and then I cried even that away. Depleted, I wondered how I could sustain a connection with God, other people, or even with myself in this new context.
I might’ve turned to singing hymns of worship which in past years brought a peaceful, quiet awareness of the infinite; except that now, the lyrics of those hymns seem to carry a delicious sort of brainwashing. It is hard to hear the words and impossible to sing them with integrity; and so I struggle, often declining to sing at all. The deliberate abstinence from a former source of joy has been painful.
MY LYRICS, YOUR MUSIC
But today, when a 3-verse hymn began, I closed my eyes and thought of those who have lived in past ages, whose very real sacrifices touch me even now. Because they fought ignorance and injustice in their own place and time, mankind has been lifted to higher levels of knowledge and freedom, making my world a better place. Copernicus died for teaching that our solar system is heliocentric; but later, his grandchild’s generation listened and learned. Somewhere, perhaps an early tradesman refused slavery, and so starved – leaving a legacy of integrity which strengthened others to embrace his compassionate stance.
I do not know the names of these builders of the past, just as I cannot know the names of everyone who continues their work today. But as I sat in Sacrament Meeting to be with my husband, feeling my kinship with Lots wife, I began to sing for these people. I sang for them all. I hope that somehow, across either ages or miles, my hymn of gratitude for their sacrifices reached and warmed them.
FROM SALTY TO SWEET
Maybe this seems strange to you, but as I left Sacrament Meeting, I felt calm. I began to trust that, having left religion behind, I can know spiritual sweetness once again. On this day, I listened intently to my feelings of gratitude and ignored the expectations of others entirely. Perhaps I am on my way to becoming more connected with the family of man; with my changed self; and with even God – who I no longer care to define, but toward whom I will always reach.
TWO DAYS LATER
After walking home last Sunday, I put my lyrics back together again as best I could, polishing them as I went. The thoughts expressed remain absolutely true to my feelings as originally expressed. I now offer them to you – certainly not as a poet! – but as stumbling me, whose purpose is love, as I discover and then embrace that which is meaningful and real.
By spear or sword, my brothers died
Because they took a stand
Wherever human power thought
To force the free heart’s hand.
Within the fire, my sisters died
And I, through tears, do plead
My chance to thank them was not lost
For all eternity.
I honor those who sacrificed
Long centuries ago
Upon whose blood and bones we build
The world we hope to know.