Monday, January 24, 2011

Fellowship

My LDS chapel on King Street, Alexandria, VA


All of you who know me, even a little bit, know that I'm LDS. My dissertation is based on Mormon women's history. I'm super active in my church and I talk about it and the people I associate with all the time. I love it. My membership and my beliefs make up a huge part of my identity and worldview.

Well, I've only been to little bits of church four times in the past three months. Understandably. I've been really sick, either in the hospital or home in bed. Or on the couch. Every week my home teachers have brought me the sacrament. I've maintained my calling as Relief Society president with the most active and loving counselors and committees. And dear ward members and others have literally flocked to my every need.

But.

I didn't realize how much I missed the fellowship of the Saints. Sure, I've listened to my favorite Mormon Tabernacle choir and BYU choir cds on my ipod. Their hymn arrangements are incredible. I've read some pretty great talks from the internet, and I've even watched some on DVD and listened to podcasts. And of course I've prayed and read my scriptures.

It's just not the same as actually singing hymns with the congregation, or listening to a talk from the pulpit or participating in an actual Sunday School or Relief Society lesson, or praying together with a common cause and saying amen. Together.

Yesterday I braved the cold and the germs. I armed myself with hand sanitizer and anti-nausea pills. I made arrangements for the Sampson boys to save me a seat in the front, and I slipped in right as sacrament meeting started, surrounded/blockaded by my healthy roommates. I sang, I prayed, I partook, I listened. And then I slipped out as soon as the meeting was over. I was there.

But more importantly, I felt the fellowship of my fellow Saints. I winked and waved at dear friends across the pews. I saw babies who have grown considerably over the past months. I listened to talks about sharing the yoke of Christ. I watched the sacrament passed by new 12-year-old deacons that have received the priesthood since I've been there. I noted new members of the ward and thrilled at the idea of belonging. I saw my dear bishop and felt his love and concern, not just for me, as I've certainly felt over the past months, but for every member of the Crystal City Ward.

One day I'll be more regular. I'll stay for all three hours. For now it's baby steps, depending on how I feel and what my counts are. And regardless of strict attendance, I know I belong. But I rejoice in the opportunity for actual fellowship.

4 comments:

Lesli said...

Thanks for helping me appreciate what I get to do every week even more. And thanks for always finding something to be glad about. You are a great example to me. Love you lots!

shamers said...

Jenny, I don't know if you remember me but I had to comment on this. I saw the link to your auction on Autumn Hinton's blog and read about your diagnosis and I've been checking in on you since. We were in CCW for two years up until about two years ago and though we didn't know each other well, all my friends who knew you better raved about you all the time.

Anyway, I'm in the YW presidency in my ward here in Arizona and I'd like to share your sentiments here with my girls. We have a few that are semi-active but think they're doing fine -- I'd like to tell them how you feel about being unable to go and how much it meant for you to get to Sacrament Meeting even for one day. Thank you for sharing your experience.

You're in my prayers. Stay strong!
shane manning

Melody said...

Love you Jenny! Great Post! Your friends surround you, even though we don't want to get near you for fear of making you sick! Love, Melody

Andrew & Vanessa and kids said...

Tears are streaming down my face as I read this.
OH, how I miss our dear Crystal City ward "family".
Thank you for the reminder of the weekly "tender mercy" we receive as we partake of the sacrament.
We love you, and my children pray for you in every prayer!
Love,
Vanessa