I suppose I’d want to be a lap dog,
if I was remade as something else.
Because being alpha seems…well—

The first woman pastor I sought out
wore a robe with a soft gloss to it.
A stole draped over her shoulders
past her hips, clapping her knees
—was it green? Before her church,
she opened her arms, posture wide,
palms up, feet shoulders’ width
apart, head tilting east just a tad.
She imparted a blessing of peace
to everyone in her very room.

It took some Sundays, but I received
my face-to-face encounter. Sitting in
a bishop’s—here a pastor’s—office
seemed an old-hat ritual to me. Yet
sitting across from her,
a desk between us,
alone in her office? That seemed…well—
she was a she. Never before in my life had I
confided in a she-priest. Doleful, I shed my Mormon
armor, placing bare spirit feet on her ground. Then she spoke:

“Jake, thank you for telling me about your faith crisis. It’s a deep pain we feel when we doubt our religion—especially a religion our parents gifted us. And I want you to know whatever you choose—whether it’s to leave the LDS Church and join ours, or stay in the LDS Church, or go somewhere completely different—just know that whatever you choose, you are welcome here.”

She was lovely.

Forgive me. I was in my 20s back then, and I still am at heart. What I remember most vividly is how beautiful this pastor was. Wavy brown hair framing her neck and descending just past her shoulders. She was fit in a way that suggested a commitment to health without a gym fetish. Her voice carried as clarion across that desk as it had in the sanctuary: intimate yet confident, pitched up into mezzo yet free of needless tension.

Please believe me when I say I did not sit their lusting in my heart. Instead, I listened as this pastor counseled me about religious pain. There was something in her voice to which I felt inclined to hearken.

“I wasn’t always a pastor. I entered the seminary not long after my first husband’s death. He had struggled with depression for years. He tried incredibly hard to overcome it. I tried to help him. Our extended family and his friends tried to help.

When I found him on our property, there was no sense of surprise or shock. As I stood over his body, the first clear feeling I sensed was peace, which I had not expected to feel. The sorrow was there. But more deeply I felt myself being spared a pain which is ultimately futile: the urge to blame him, or myself, or anyone else for his dying. You see, nobody ever needs to be put on a cross again.”

She said all of this calmly with a voice of wisdom.
She spoke as one having authority. Her trump,
with a steady mellow tone, sounded for me.
My bosom did something better than burn.
I felt it begin to cool. I began to rest.
She had introduced me to grace.

In moments of acute pain,
if I could, I would curl up on
the lap of our mother God,
and insist she forgive me
—doleful creature—
for gnawing her sandals,
for galloping muddy across
her couch, stalking foolhardy
as one seeking to master
her love. I would curl up in
her arms and be comforted,
fed and forgiven, and taught
how to rest from my raging
against the rising moon.

Poet’s Notes:

The line “doleful creature” comes from the Bible (Isaiah 13, KJV) by way of The Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 23:21). The featured image is licensed from iStockphoto.