Sacred, Not Secret

handshake

Temple

In the LDS church, Temple ordinances are the pinnacle of  worship.  Among them are the washings & anointings, the endowment, and sealings.  These solemn rituals surround and support the making of holy covenants.

The temple rites are highly revered.  Details of these ordinances are so special that they are not discussed outside the temple walls.  We have a little saying that goes like this:  The temple is sacred, not secret.

Talkeria

Tonight, we held a Talkeria here is Houston.  Four in attendance.  One was me, one was a newcomer.  The two others were veteran attendees.  The meeting started at 7pm.  By 9:00, the two veterans had departed.  Just I and the newbee remained.

We talked away, until I noticed the restaurant manager rolling down the overhead door to close-off the front entrance.  I looked at my watch.  Shocked!  The bewitching hour of 10pm had arrived.  Where had the last 60 minutes gone?  They had been swallowed up by a thoroughly engaging and much needed conversation.

Over and over again, I am discovering, the spiritual nature of talking face-to-face, heart-to-heart, in an environment free from agenda and judgment.  Sharing pent-up feelings and thoughts that can’t be expressed elsewhere.

My new Mormon friend had recently undergone a faith transition.  In loneliness…all by himself.  He described his current state as “eviscerated to the core.”  I have spoken to many people about their faith journey.  No one has ever described it with those words. Painful, excruciating, gut-wrenching–but, never eviscerating.

Tonight is the first time I’d met this man.  The sharing and caring that transpired in those last 60 minutes created a beautiful and sweet bond between us.  I truly feel that open & honest conversations are….sacred.

So, I now have a little saying that goes like this:  Talking is sacred, not secret.

Oh, that these sacred connections could be had with parents and peers, with brothers and bishops.  That’s where they should be happening.  That’s where safety and unconditional love should be found.  Someday.

 

15 thoughts on “Sacred, Not Secret

  1. Glad that you were able to help this person. I just wonder if he has tried to talk to his family or his Bishop. I would be afraid that you could become his crutch. I am assuming that you are encouraging him to try to talk to them like you did. Keep up the good work , Sam.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Janice. I haven’t announced this publicly yet, but a couple of weeks ago I was notified that the ward and stake will not be doing anything to create a safe space for open discussions about questions, doubts, history or doctrine. This directive came from SLC headquarters. In addition, I was told that our regular meetings are already safe for quesions to be raised. However, they should be asked from a faith promoting standpoint.

      Well, that’s fine. Unfortunately, it simply maintains the status quo. People are not going to raise their questions at church….because it isn’t safe. So, we will continue to be surprised when friends and family suddenly no longer believe. It wasn’t sudden. It was that our friends and family could not discuss their concerns openly. They travel a painful and solitary journey invisible to us. The only safe place they find is among the listening, welcoming, validating, understanding, & non-judgmental community of former members. Meanwhile we are clueless because we weren’t safe.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Sam, I am so sorry for that decision because I can understand the need for what you do. However, I can also see the Church’s reasoning. Although I don’t have an alternative, a few things come to mind. The first would be that a new teacher in a Church class would not usually have the knowledge to answer some questions posed to them. What a Pandora’s box this could open up when all class members commenting. The other thing that comes to mind is the reason for the Church’s dislike of the format you have taken. I remember many years ago when we used to have “cottage meetings” on nights other than church sanctioned days. They were where we came and brought investigators who were just interested in asking questions…some sincere and some, not so much. The church put a stop to those and as I grew older and wiser, I began to understand why. The information shared was not always in sync with church doctrine. I know for a fact that when people were asking questions that they were given information that wasn’t exactly true. Also, like at your talkeria, some people receive more information than they are asking. For instance, if one of your members said that they lost their faith after reading the CES letter, and with no information on that paper, went home and looked it up on the Internet. Without any background, they would assume it was all true. Imagine the added angst they would have. If someone brought this up in a Sunday School class, imagine the problems it would cause a SS teacher to bring the class back to order. I am just saying that I understand both sides. If the church can offer a 12 step addiction program, I don’t understand why they couldn’t do the same for a crisis of faith class.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. In addition to his faith journey, this man made a ton of perceptive and interesting side comments. Towards the end he said this, “I feel like going to Mormon churches on Sunday, to stand at the door and pass out pieces of paper announcing there is a safe place to talk. There should be little Talkerias happening all over Houston.”

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  2. Awesome post. It’s wonderful to share and be shared with in personal and vulnerable ways to be accepted in friendship and love. In this we celebrate our similarities and differences. No guilt, fear, and shame because we are good enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. —verb (used with object), e·vis·cer·at·ed, e·vis·cer·at·ing.

    to remove the entrails from; disembowel: to eviscerate a chicken.
    to deprive of vital or essential parts: The censors eviscerated the book to make it inoffensive to the leaders of the party.
    Surgery. to remove the contents of (a body organ).

    New word for me. Very descriptive….going through what many of us have been through in our faith transition is often excruciatingly painful…doing it alone compounds it.

    When I’ve shared with my previous bishop and present stake president I was sent away…literally. My bishop, against my specific request had my records moved…placing me officially among literal strangers. Present stake president invited me to have my name removed. Other members have called me to repentance and used fear and shame in an attempt to get me to “return to Heavenly Father”. How judgmental is that?

    My experience is that, on rare occasions, I visit with a believing member who truly is loving and accepting (true friends…few and far between…precious beyond words) but the LD$ church organization itself has nothing to offer those with questions. The programs, practices and policies abandon the one! (You’ve proven that by going up the ‘proper’ channels…just to be told there would continue to be nothing for those who are writhing in pain). Btw…cognitive dissonance is by its very definition…painful!

    Finding out that something or someone you loved and gave your heart and soul, energy, time and money too…has betrayed you, lied to you, manipulated and used you…is evisceratingly painful!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I was one of those that was able to attend this last night. I enjoyed listening to the first-timer’s story. I was intrigued by both how common some of his story was, but also how his story has a slightly different twist showing how deep in your identity being a Mormon is.
    I really appreciate Sam’s efforts to help people. There is a massive need, and he is doing his part with this blog and doing a simple but meaningful meeting at a hot dog joint with anybody that wants to attend.
    I have attended a few of these and one thing I always stress is that I found it very important for my mental health to connect with a person that you can talk about your issues. Face to face is always preferable, but even a phone call can be helpful. So if anybody reading this blog and feels they really need to just talk with someone, I am willing to chat on the phone. Sam I hope you don’t mind me volunteering you to be a broker, but Sam has my contact info and if you go up to the “MENU” on the upper right of this blog and then select “contact” you will get a message to Sam and he can pass on to me that you want to talk.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Happy,
      Thank you so much for being there last night. I loved listening to your questions and comments as you listened to our new friend. It was very meaningful to him…and to me.

      It is so validating that someone besides me sees the desperate need for a safe, nonjudgmental space for people to share their journey.

      Thank you, my friend.

      Like

    1. I hope he benefited as much as I did. As he shared his journey, his feelings and thoughts, it brought validation to my own path. We definitely connected.

      Like

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