i remember a conversation with my bossman a few months back.
he is jewish and he loves the mormons. specifically, the mormon missionaries. if it’s a cold night, he invites the elders in for some hot chocolate. the following day i’ll find an extra copy of the book of mormon on my desk. i, in turn, give it back to the missionaries (not the same ones, we’re not that organized!)
he also loves “discussing” things debate style. and by things, i mean the off-limit topics of politics and religion.
back to his question – why do mormon missionaries even try to convert jews? don’t they know that being jewish is more than a religion? it is a culture!
i smiled and agreed with him that we are just as saturated in a religious culture, and offered that the transition would be a smooth one if he considered changing teams…
we do have a very distinctive culture. i even wrote my IB extended essay on that very topic, mormonism as a culture. part of that culture is the practice of callings. members of each congregation help run it, voluntarily and unpaid. each member receives a calling, a specific duty. and when the time comes, they are released from that calling.
for more than three years i have gotten to work with the youth here in seattle. specifically the young women age 12-18. it has been harder than any calling i have ever had, with the exception of being a full-time missionary. it is one of the few callings in the church that is all-consuming. sometimes when i wasn’t doing anything, i’d realize that i was thinking about the girls.
it kept me awake at night.
it was filled with worry, drama, conflict and mistakes. but it was also filled with laughter, fun, happiness and triumphs.
like with all other callings, there must come an end.
in the instant i was released i felt the weight of those girls lift off of me. but in the wake of that release, i find myself grasping to fill their vacancy.
so many hundreds of moments over the past few years that now keep me awake – but in a different way. they remind me of what i’ve learned, and that i mustn’t forget.