pilgrimclassic: Casting Faith

This post originally appeared on Nov 19, 2006:

On Thursday during my casting appointment there was a group of four people involved in the process—two prosthetists and two interns—each taking a different role in wrapping my residual limb in a flexible fiberglass shell, then shaping that shell into a form that will both conform to my anatomy and will also best contain the tissue, muscle and bone as I walk. This is an intimate process, as the socket of my prosthetic leg interfaces with the major bones of the pelvic girdle—holding in the ischium and pressing against the ramus.

It is an odd feeling to have two male prosthetists shaping the casting material between my legs and around my hip. Realizing that they are interacting with the most personal spaces of my body. Knowing that it is their job and this is a necessary process for getting a good fitting socket. Me, trying to remain a bit aloof and distanced from the process, yet at the same time having such high hopes that they will get a good fit—that the socket will work well and not cause pain and the suppurating sores that I’ve suffered with for the past few years.

On Thursday evening I experienced a different form of intimacy. I gathered around the kitchen table of a Friend, holding hands with three Quaker women who agreed to serve on my Clearness Committee. We sat in silence, in prayer, until I felt moved to speak, to tell them of the turmoil in my heart in the process of leaving Mormonism. I spoke hesitantly, nervously. Their role was only to ask open-ended questions. Not to judge. Not to guide. After 90 minutes of speaking and silence, they mirrored what I had spoken back to me. They told me what they had heard me say. They discussed how my body language revealed the truths of my heart. Most of all, they shared their concern for the burdens that I am carrying.

Perhaps ironically, the Clearness Committee experience was far more discomfiting and intimate than the casting for my prosthesis. For I don’t readily share the thoughts of my heart. Yes, I do this daily blogging, but I speak primarily of mundanity here. I’ve only very hesitantly shared the steps of my spiritual journey with anyone. I suspect that most just can’t understand. Within the Mormon community I feel censure and distrust. I have few friends who can empathize with the loss of faith. Who can grieve with me through this process?

Outside of Mormonism, I am flummoxed by trying to explain what leaving the church means. That it is a complete change of worldview. Is it, perhaps, like having to relearn to walk?

There is a popular LDS song called “I Walk By Faith” that I sang often during my teen years. I identified with this song as a young Mormon who was developing faith in Christ and as an amputee, because each step involved trusting my prosthesis in hopes that it would support my weight. So now on my spiritual journey away from the LDS Church I am learning what it means to walk by uncertainty, to walk by doubt, to walk into completely unknown territory as my heart leads me onwards. Ironically, this seems the biggest leap of faith thus far.