I was able to go to Relief Society for the first time in ages today. It was just like the RS meeting you probably attended: women of different backgrounds sat listening to a teacher of firm faith but no training try with erratic success to engage the class on weightier topics. The sister who talks too much did. The sister who always comments but adds little did. There were some affirming thank-a-money tributes. There was a quotes handout. Technical difficulties occurred and were overcome. We listened to some CatTab. A lace table cloth was present.
I’ve attended hundreds of RS meetings all over the world. The vast, vast majority of RS lessons follow some variation of this.
Despite the almost formulaic regularity of the problems and personalities and irritations and comments, there was that moment — you know the kind — when someone said something that triggered a mind-expanding thought. I have been taught to call it The Spirit. It makes me feel and think something(somethings) that far, far transcends the sum of what’s happening in the meeting. A glimpse of God? I don’t know. But it *is* there. And it happens with almost the same predictable regularity as comments from the over-sharers, despite — maybe because of — the mish-mash of regular people like me just hoping to get a little something and who are willing to share a little bit of experience or love for an hour or so.
That’s why I go: to feel something — THAT something.
Right now a lot of my beliefs are in flux, and I am not sure how to reconcile them. I’m not even sure if it’s necessary. I mean, I have to live life even if nature-altering miracles aren’t a “real’ thing or if the Atonement is not magical, just the results of my own paradigm shift turned into action. I’m becoming more enamored of the scripture “by their fruits ye shall know them”. I can’t see the roots of the tree. They may be (are) gnarly or weak or whatever, but the fruit tastes good. Church history — the root — is gnarly and obscured and very hard to contextualize. But the fruit of the Church that resulted from it tastes good to me. Studies shows zero effect of prayer on the sick. I’ve never seen a “miracle” that broke a natural law. I don’t know if the dramatic stories in the Bible (earth stopped spinning, man swallowed by whale, people raised from the dead, God/HG impregnates girl, someone suffers for my sins) really happened. I don’t know that Mormonism is the only way to have an experience with God. But lived Mormonism moves my mind to higher thoughts and my hands to better behaviors, and it provides a place for me to reflect some of that light I glimpse at Church.
So I keep going. I have questions about the roots and reality of the faith that I don’t expect to be answered, but I do love its fruit.