By Carol Clark
“How forcible are right words!” Job asserted passionately to his friends (Job 6:25).
Reading Job recalls to me how true his statement is. Right wordsand all they meanapplied to daily life are a true source of strength, direction, and support no matter what others might say.
In a very real sense this alphabet of gospel principles is a capturing of adventures and experiments upon many of the gospel’s right words. My prayer is that what I share will lead every reader to Him who is the Word (John 1:1).
B Is For Belonging
I planned most carefully for an extended trip to Australia. I had Church speaking assignments across the continent and knew I had to bring everything I’d need for three busy weeks on the road. I shopped accordingly, buying new clothes, shoes and accessories. Evaluating it all as I packed, I knew I could go the distance, luggage and all.
Our arrival in Sydney thrilled me. In a flurry of hellos and briefings, the men greeting my traveling companion and me piled our bags in the back of their vehicle and whisked us off for lunch downtown.
Hours later when we reached the Area Office, one of our hosts opened the “boot” of the car to bring out our luggage. All the happy chatter stopped abruptly when he announced that my bags were missing. Everyone looked in the boot again. We peered under the seats. We looked on the ground as if the bags might miraculously materialize.
My luggage was goneall of it.
The men checked the windows. “Look at this,” one cried. “Someone broke the latch, slid the back window open, and grabbed the bags he could reachyours, Sister Clark.” He dashed off to call the car park security office.
A scant two hours before our first training session, I had only the shirt on my back. No scriptures. No notes. No fresh clothes. No glasses. Not even a lipstick. Our wonderful hostess whisked me to the local mall. I prayed the entire way that I could find something to wear. I bought the first outfit that fit, despite the cost and style, and snagged a handful of toiletries.
As we prepared to leave for the meeting, I foraged through my companion’s notes, borrowed some scriptures, and grabbed my prescription sunglasses, which I had been wearing when we went to lunch.
When I stood at the pulpit wearing my glasses, I felt as dreary as that room looked through the darkened lenses. I began my talk by explaining why I was wearing my very dark glasses. A huge “Oh no!” rose from the audience. After the meeting women streamed up, apologizing that such a terrible thing would happen to a visitor to their country. “Maybe the thief will benefit from your scriptures,” one said.
The next day I borrowed a large purse, folded my few possessions into it and off we went. Each morning I’d wake up and ask my friend, “Hmm, what shall I wear today?” Each evening I’d experience something wonderful at the hands of the Australians.
The Sydney Saints had called ahead. From sister to brother, from friend to friend, from mother to daughter, in city after city, the Saints let others know that Sister Clark had no clothes. I didn’t set foot in a building that some sister didn’t come forward and quietly press a pair of hose or a note into my hand. With a pat and a loving word, these women made me feel I belongedsunglasses, wrinkled clothes and all.
I saw as I might not have under any other circumstances that what mattered was not belongings, but belonging. These women I did not know wrapped me in warmth I’d never have duplicated with anything out of my long lost suitcase.
Belongings are good, but belonging is better. That’s what the Australian sisters taught me. Alma the Elder taught his people by way of commandment “that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another” (Mosiah 18:21).
To be knit together in love means, in part, to belong to each other, to belong together. Like yarns woven to make a garment, the threads of loving concern provide a covering as real as any fabric, a mantle that never goes out of style, loses its fit, or fails to wear well.