Monday, March 30, 2009

Visiting the Yosemite Ward

This morning I set my alarm to head down to Oakhurst, CA, where I attended my first LDS Church meeting since September.

I want to tell you that it felt good.
I want to describe to you the confirmation of truth I received from the spirit.
I want to express my feeling of foolishness for leaving my beloved church behind.

I WANT to tell you those things. But they would be lies.

Wending my down CA-41 from Fish Camp to Oakhurst, I listened to Trail of Dreams, a Mormon Pioneer musical that I have referenced before.

"Past the farthest farmhouse, to the open plains
every step we've taken, one less step remains!
On, like ancient Israel, leaving Egypt in their day,
and praying God will lead us and will open up the way!

Rolling on!
to sage and pinion!
Rolling on!
to the plateaus!
Rolling on,
to make the mountain valleys blossom as a rose!"

One of my favorite things about Mormonism has always been the Pioneer Heritage. I belted the songs out loud, which moved my soul to a great extent--I had tears rolling down my cheeks as I drove.

My heart palpitated considerably as I arrived at the Chapel, finding not a single parking space. I ended up parking on the curb, which placed my "No On 8" bumper sticker facing almost everyone who'd leave the lot. It was partially obscured by my bike, but it made me feel conspicuous anyway. I spied at least one "Yes On 8" sticker, and my heart tightened.

I remembered vividly the whole experience of why I left.

Walking inside, I thought it must have been ward conference--apparently, they had just combined two wards, perhaps in a money saving measure, but it meant that now the cultural hall was perpetually necessary to accomedate the memebership.

The hymns, which are usually my favorite part of a meeting, were especially bad. They picked hims I could care less about, and the congregation sang with about as much spirit as a man dying of starvation. Timid bland vocals sung at whisper volume. Why are we as Mormons so bad at Worship?

I didn't feel much at all during the whole meeting. I honestly tried to be optimistic and open minded, and sought out the truth in what people said during their testimonies. However, unlike my distorted memories, the spirit didn't speak to me at all. I felt like I was listening to old woman after old woman telling some anicdotal bullshit story and then lamely tying in the gospel. No one referenced scripture, no one quoted the prophets--the Bishop spent more time making allusions to Ben-Hur than describing the story of the woman and the well. (John 4:4-42).

I do miss the church, but I miss it in the same way one might miss a friend that use to be very close and important to you, but whose actions changed your opinion of them. They are still there, you could still hang around with them--but that isn't the person you miss--the person you miss is gone.

That's my latest thoughts on the church.

Contrast that experience with going to Yosemite afterwards, and feeling nothing but JOY and PEACE and happiness for being in God's beautiful creation, this beautiful earth. It's like night and day.

Speaking of night, it's about 2am now, so I should head to bed!


  1. So interesting Ezra. Going back to church as a sort of touchstone to see how you will feel-- i think that is great. I also think it is great that you were going with an open heart and mind to see what you could learn there. I understand your experience well-- it is something that I too have felt keenly.

    I sometimes miss the church too, but I never miss going to church on a sunday. I never miss the often insipid comments I had to let roll off my back. I don't even really miss the community or the music, as it was often hit or miss for me. I can say that being part of something that engenders some great people was really a wonderful gift to my life. I feel like mormonism helped me develop a lot of self-discipline, which is good. BUT it also forced me to be dishonest about some pretty big things, and being dishonest and in denial caused some other secondary problems and damaged my view of myself in ways that took time to repair.

    After reading your posts about this, about Yosemite and about wanting a boyfriend (craigslist etc-- which honey we have ALL been there), I just want to really encourage you to slow down a little bit. I know you want everything right now.. we all do! But remember to be patient and let the things that are meant to come into your life just come into your life as by design. I feel nervous that youre taking your own desires SO seriously that you are letting them run you into depression and unhappiness. Not that those are always bad things mind you-- but buddhistically I just think that a little reminder: patience, letting go of our desires, and trusting that all good will flow to you in time, are always IMPORTANT to remember. I guess I just feel like an older brother to you-- and maybe this is an unwelcome comment, but I just feel for you, love you, and I want to see you make it to a place where you feel like you have everything you want out of life. As a whole, beautiful person you WILL have everything in time. You don't even have to try-- it will all just come. I believe that.. truly I do.

  2. Clark, I love your comment. Ezra, I don't know what you need, but i think love is at the number one.

    I've been dating and having things to write about on my blog, but I recently just had to take a b reak. This thing we call love is not easy to find. I've found it's counterfeit several times and I have been hurt a lot. I finally had to take a step back and realize that i want something different and the little things I was filling my life, while I can spin a good tale about it, are not quite what i want.

    I like your description of churhc. I've gone back a few times too, but it only reminds me that I don't belong there anymore.

    Anyway, I love you and I don't even know you. I want you to be happy, but don't fake it. If you're sad, be sad. This life is all about figuring out the ebb and flow if our emotions.

  3. Clark and Stella: You are both incredible people, and I'm glad to call you friends. I hope one day we'll be able to meet and I can give you both hugs as thanks for your kind words and support.

    @Clark--it's funny, I feel really like a brother to you too--I think it's because I can really hear your voice in your comments, which are lengthy and genuine. I agree that I need to slow down... but patience is a vitue I've never posessed. :) I'll work on trying to relax and let the good flow to me. And on those lonely nights, maybe I'll try and read a book or watch TV instead of dwelling.

    @Stella: Yes, romantic love is something I desire more than anything. Maybe I'm putting too much emphasis on it, but I feel like all my other anxieties and frustrations would be bareable if only I just had someone to come home to and hold and tell about my day and laugh with. SIGH. I'm really glad to have you as a reader. I hope one day to meet you as well.

  4. Question- so what are you now a days? Do you consider yourself Mormon? Or are you agnostic?

    As far as religion goes - just know basically your entire generation is in the same boat - unless you really believe in what your church says - nobody feels right when they go to church- because if they are losing or have lost their religion- much of what is said on the altar sounds like a crock of shit - even if you're straight.