The night before I left on my mission (which, for those who may not know is something that young men and women do in the Mormon church. Between the ages of 19-25, you leave your home and family for 2 years and go teach the gospel of Jesus Christ), there was a terrific thunderstorm. I stood out on my front porch and watched the lightning flash over the Great Salt Lake. It was a stunning display of nature's power and I remember feeling quite awed by it. I believe I sang a few verses of "How Great Thou Art" to the accompaniment of the rolling thunder as the Lord's power was displayed.
I know everyone in the world LOVES that song, and so, being the contrarian I am, I'm reluctant to say that I love it, too. But I do. Actually, I don't really like the whole song that much, but I love the line, "Then sings my soul." That is a wonderful lyric and it expresses perfectly a feeling that comes over me from time to time--a feeling of peace and well-being, a feeling of a full measure of joy that goes beyond simply being happy and infuses every bit of my soul.
One of the unique teachings of the Church is that the soul is not a synonym for the spirit, but that the soul is the spirit and the body combined. I like that idea for many reasons, but one of which is that it is different from the idea that the body is evil and needs to be loathed and mistrusted.
I love that idea because it is often through my physical senses that my spirit is taken to the heights that lead my soul to sing.
I'm sitting in the crisp, cool evening--an evening that is all you would want a September evening to be. I'm watching the sunset over the trees in the forest that abut my backyard. I'm watching my children play, accompanied by the birds singing good night and the crickets and frogs just starting their conversations.
I think of where we lived ten years ago--in a tiny apartment on a dirty, smelly street in Brooklyn. The walls of our apartment were thin and we could hear our neighbors alternating between fights and parties. I rode the bus and train for hours and hours a day to work and then to school.
It was a lot of work to get here--and it is a lot of work to stay where we are. But the Lord is good. The crickets sound crisper and the stars in the sky gleam brighter because we had to work so hard and wait so long to have a house of our own. The fact that it's small doesn't seem burdensome, it just feels good to have our own home.
My soul is singing tonight, as moved by the peace and tranquility of a sunset as I was by the tumultuous storm so many years ago. I had no idea when I left home to go on a mission, what a difficult adventure my life would be. I had no idea the storms that would crash around me. We have not been spared our trials and difficulties, and there were moments when I cried out and asked why the Lord had forsaken me.
But I also had no idea how beautiful the calm of a fall evening would be. And that is reason for my soul to sing.
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