Priesthood is defined as the authority to act in God’s name. It is also a call to service.
On Saturday, Oct. 5, I joined about 200 other women in Salt Lake City in the stand-by line to gain entry into the Priesthood session of 183rd LDS General Conference, Fall 2013. However, we were denied entry. Shut out.
After the Conference Center was roped off and the now- infamous garbage truck rolled by, we all joined together in singing “I am a Child of God,” a reminder to all of our worth in Heavenly Father’s eyes, and for me a solemn prayer to my Heavenly Parents. As we were singing, I changed the words ever so slightly, “To live with Them someday.”
However, nothing could compare to the bewildered feeling I felt once we were all turned away. I thought to myself, “I came out all this way for this?” There was that empty, lingering feeling of now what?
On some levels, I think we all felt it.
Sunday was an eventful day that I will never forget. As a friend and I were passing Temple Square, the non-LDS protestors were in full swing. I walked up to one of them and calmly said, “Our Heavenly Parents love you.”
To my surprise, a brother in the faith who happened to be standing there thanked me, and as I walked off, this angry protestor yelled back, “And what is your Heavenly Mother’s name?” Initially, I had planned to keep walking and not say a word, but feeling inspired, I turned around and called out firmly, “Her name is Asherah.”(1) I have no idea if the man even heard my reply, but I had assurance that I had spoken up on Heavenly Mother’s behalf; for She too knew exactly how I – how we all felt — for She too has been shut out for far too long.
Later that evening, I found myself at an LDS Affirmation/Reconciliation discussion. The Spirit was strong as I administered blessings to those who asked. In that moment, I knew exactly why I had been called out to Salt Lake. I had been called to serve those whom Pres. Uchtdorf had addressed in his Conference talk “Come Join with Us” — for I found myself among them; the doubters, the questioners and the disaffected, who for whatever reason did not fit in with the Church’s standards of righteousness. Yet here they – we – were, faithfully seeking and knocking for the door to be opened. Yet they too felt shut out.
That night I joined friends for the Eccles Organ Festival at the Cathedral of the Madeleine in downtown Salt Lake City. I spent some time praying in the Chapel of our Lady of Zion, as I was reminded of another important person, a pillar of Zion, who had been shut out— Mary Magdalene. But that never stopped her from fulfilling her mission.
It was not until I boarded the plane flying out of Salt Lake City on Monday, October 7th that I was reminded once again that our efforts were not in vain. As I got to talking with the couple I was sitting next to on the plane, I found out the husband, a Branch President, had been sitting in the Priesthood session when he heard us singing. “I felt the Spirit,” he said.
Even though we had been shut out from the Priesthood session, our voices were not shut out.
After spending a day at the Smith Farm and Sacred Grove in Palmyra, I am reminded of another family who also knew firsthand what it meant to be shut out. But they never let it stop them from loving and serving. Instead, they stood as a living testimony of, in the words of Pres. Uchtdorf “heed(ing) the call of the gentle Christ,” (2) who also experienced firsthand what it meant to be shut out by the spiritual and religious authorities of his time.
Drafted at Palmyra Inn, NY
10/13/2013 11:00 pm
(1) For a detailed explanation of how I reached this conclusion regarding the name of our Mother in Heaven, please see my post on Doves and Serpents “Redeeming Asherah” http://www.dovesandserpents.org/wp/2013/04/redeeming-asherah/ I realize She may also have been known by various other names throughout history.
(2) Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Come Join with Us,” LDS 183rd General Conference: Fall 2013.