Twenty some years ago I left home for the first time. No practice runs or degrees of separation I jumped right into leaving my hometown when I served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
If you are unfamiliar with how a mission works for this particular church let me give you a brief summary. Male missionaries serve for 24 months, female missionaries for 18. Typically a missionary serves far enough away from home that he or she won’t be distracted by family and friends. While the missionary may write to family often, the only verbal communication occurs twice a year. All of these rules are to help the missionary stay focused on the purpose of the mission. It also allows the missionary to begin to rely on herself and her own testimony and faith. I believe in the process and I think every person should have a similar separation. If not by serving a mission then some other way in which contact with home is limited. It’s a good way to become an adult and learn what you can accomplish as a person.
Anyway, back to this particular story. Twenty some years ago I found myself in the Missionary Training Center (MTC) a few weeks from serving in Texas. I was away from home and family. During one of our meetings we sung the hymn “Lead Kindly Light.” I’m not sure if I had ever heard that hymn before or if I had I just had not paid attention to it. But there I was, missing home and momma a bit, and we sang the hymn. The phrase “the night is dark, and I am far from home” hit me with all the feels. I personalized with my current circumstances at the moment and felt the weight of the words. Right then at that precise moment this became my hymn. I claimed ownership of it.
Although that was many years ago and my circumstances have changed several times since then that moment created a special bond between me and this hymn. I always like to hear it and when I show up to a church meeting and it happens to be one of the musical numbers it warms my heart and makes me happy. I’ll even put in request for it to be sung at my funeral. This may sound like a morbid request to some but if you know my family then you know that’s just what we do. We plan everything.
Anyway, this is now one of my most beloved and favorite hymns.