Thursday, July 5, 2007

Poem: Face Towards Zion

In the confidence of spring my heart vision searches
Distant mountain valleys, gazing over unknown oceans.
Shall I turn my back on the sweet green fields of home?
The bleating lambs follow their mothers for only so long,
Then find pastures of their own. I shall dream of prairies,
Endless as the sky, and full of the promise of tomorrow.

Leave behind the civility of fine things, the tender grasp
Of family and friends, never to see or embrace again.
I must bite my lip, let the tear crease a corner of my soul,
Yet move steadfastly forward, one foot in front of the other.
Oh, let me see beyond the mountains to glimpse the bright city
Where He that watches over neither slumbers nor sleeps.

Today I will hear his voice, I will kneel beside the quiet stream
And never thirst again. Guide me, O thou great Jehovah,
Along the endless muddy mire or hot dusty road, it matters not.
Gladly I pull my handcart to join Enoch and those of one heart!
And if only I am a stranger in the land, then let me face towards
Zion, while I gently close my eyes, and wait upon the Lord.



J G-W said...

I read this poem the other day, and found it very poignant, and I thought of saying something but edited myself. But since you so nicely played along with that evil 8 random facts game, I at least owe it to you to try to spit out what I was thinking...

And it was simply that I am astonished -- in reading Beck's site and so many others, and now this poem -- at how resonant that great pioneer trek is to those of us who are gay and Mormon.

Not only that, but there are so many folks in the Church who take their faith for granted. They have "everything" in the quotidien Mormon sense, but they "struggle" with faith. They're not sure they believe. And of course I see many gay men and lesbians who have simply lost faith outright. That's the cost some of us end up paying.

But in this on-line community I have found so many deep, heartfelt, powerful testimonies born again and again, testimonies ground out of the oh-so-painful day-to-day realities of these lives we lead, trying to forge so many disparate elements together. Faith, sexuality, love, family, eternity. We gay Mormons can barely hold all those things together, and yet we are driven to try, try again.

Today I'm hoping to go to church with a straight friend of mine who has lost his testimony, but who still has good standing in the church. And sometimes I wish I could shake him and say, You don't know what you have, right there in front of you!

And I read your poem and I thought, what a beautiful testimony, what a beautiful expression of hope, coming from yet another one of those struggling, battered and bruised and conflicted gay Mormon guys. Tears are streaming down my cheeks as I write this. I love you, I truly do, from the bottom of my heart. Keep on trekking to the promised land. We'll all get there some day!

GeckoMan said...

The inspiration and theme to this poem was literally taken from the voice of a 74 year old Scottish LDS convert in the Martin Handcart Company who only made it half way before expiring from exhaustion near Chimney Rock in Nebraska. Mary Murdoch, also known as "Wee Granny" uttered these final words to her decendants: "Tell John I died with my face towards Zion."

There are a few biblical references woven into the text of the poem as well. (See Psalm 121, Hebrews 3:7-8, Isaiah 40:32)

Thank you, John, for your kind words. This poem has unfolded and guided me over the last 5 years, and it is indeed a statement of my abiding faith and hope. And yes, I do believe we shall get to that promised land some day.