Sunday, July 20, 2008


I was homesick again today. Homesick for a part of my life that I rarely experience anymore. It started at church, during a fireside, as we sang the hymn "The Spirit of God" . Every time I hear that song, it takes me back to my first sacrament meeting in the Deaf ward in California.

I have mentioned before that I am a CODA. This means I was lucky enough to attend church with a whole group of Deaf people - and it was a completely unique experience that I love to reminisce about. The first Sunday that we went was, in a word: awesome.

We walked into a small congregation of people, hands flying in varied conversations, before the meeting began. Our family took a seat in a row near the back of the room and waited for the 2 missionaries to arrive. We were greeted by no less than 20 different people, and then the service started. There were the usual formalities: a welcome, some announcements - and then the meeting began with a song - The Spirit of God. When the music director stood at the front of the congregation, hands ready, I remember a feeling of excitement and anticipation. As she led the group through the song, all hands in the room moving in unison to an unheard melody, I was mesmerized by the beauty of it all. And as the chorus came to the words, "...hosannah, hosannah...."a loud CLAP sounded throughout the room as every pair of hands signed the words.

I am homesick for the CLAP during that song. I still hear it in my head every time the song is sung - and it makes me smile. It makes me want to sign the chorus so much that I sometimes have to sit on my hands to control myself.

During the prayer that opened the meeting, I peeked around the room. Not an eye was closed. They all looked forward to the pulpit. To this day I have a hard time closing my eyes during a prayer. It seems to have so much more meaning when I can see the person who is saying (or signing) the words. (Give it a try sometime - no one will know.) I'm homesick for those all-eyes-open prayers.

I'm homesick for ASL conversations, for the brutal honesty that many Deaf people I know are ingrained with. (Sometimes. Because sometimes I don't want the honesty - the polite untruths are usually more comfortable.)

Anyway...I don't want to make this a novel.

Just wanted to say - I'm sort of homesick.

Doesn't everyone get homesick for something at different times in their life?


Rebecca said...

Your sitemeter reads exactly 13,000 right now!

But back to the point--I do get homesick sometimes, which is why I have to visit your current home state in only six more days!!! :)

Trish said...

I remember it being much easier to bare my testimony in your deaf one was looking at me. :)

Teachinfourth said...

I know EXACTLY what you're talking about. The funny thing is, I was going to do a blog about that because as I was driving yesterday I had that same pang you did...for home.

Of course, now that you've stolen my thunder I probably won't go ahead. However, just know that there are some of us out here who feel exactly the same way.

Chelle! said...

oh, I know the feeling. I get homesick for my parents home while I am at my home.

Gina said...

I am nearly homesick for YOUR home, you have described it so wonderfully with intense detail. I don't read novels anymore, I just read Gerb's blog. Thanks!

Farscaper said...

Gerb - My deaf brother will be here for the BBQ at the K's house this week. If you sign to him he would be THRILLED BEYOND BELIEF!!! He is always amazed when he runs into someone who knows how to sign.

I TOTALLY know what you're talking about with the open eyed prayers. I seem to get volunteered to sign prayers whenever visiting with my bro. He likes the way I sign better than my mom (he also likes a fresh set of hands). Every evening when we sit down for dinner and family prayer it is such a habit to sign that I have to remind myself not to.

I remember my first time going to church with him to his deaf branch. AMAZING experience. It is a totally different world. The pew's squeeked and the room echoed with every little shuffle because there wasn't anything there to drown out the sounds. I never knew who signed and who read lips - that part kinda bugged me. I just signed to everyone. The sounds of hearing aids whistling in different pitches throughout the room. I agree, the songs were the BEST. Everyone in unison. (everyone but me that is.... )

Shellie said...

I can send over my kids, they never all close their eyes it seems, but for that matter don't hold their hands still or keep their mouths quiet... I get homesick for all the different places I lived- California, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, Chile, Montreal. Also for the stages that went with them, school, mission, etc and for the good old days. Remember the 70's? Or when your first child was a baby? I miss it all. I'm basically a sap. As for your complaint about swear words in books comment, I agree! The one that really annoyed me was the last Harry Potter book. So unnecessary and out of place with the rest of the series. It's someone decided she wasn't showing how disturbed Harry would be after his life experiences. HELLO! If he and his friends didn't swear through any of the other trauma before, they wouldn't have started then!

Gerb said...

I'm glad when you're homesick for Zion because then I get to see you, a friend I am often "homesick" for.

Wasn't it a blast when you and Debi would join me in the Deaf ward? Good times.

I'd love to hear your perspective on it. I think everyone's homesickness is varied - and your words would probably describe it much more eloquently. Consider your thunder returned.

I bet it's nice to have them close enough to visit, eh?

You know why I like you? You make me feel all warm and squishy. Thanks for reading!

I wish we were gonna be there - I've seen your brother at church before and wanted to go chat but didn't want it to look like I was trying to show off my signing skills for the ward. Maybe another time...

I guess I'm a sap, too... and I give a rousing AMEN! to the gratuitous swearing in the last HP book. It seemed to me like she started to write her books so they'd better fit the movies. I was a bit disappointed by that.

It's all about the "Crew" said...

YESSS! I occasionally get homesick for a Mother I don't remember -and that we don't know that much about, but She must be pretty amazing! And, I yearn to know her again!

annette said...

In Portuguese, the word is "saudades" (sow-da-gees), and it means the feeling of longing, of missing something and wanting to be there. Such a strong feeling.
I love sign language- sounds like an awesome experience to "feel" the song (a fav. of mine too) in unison.
BTW, I tend to pray w/my eyes open (because my kids are occasionally mischieveous during prayer) and I noticed once at church that you had your eyes open too. Now I know why!

Gerb said...

I almost blogged about that kind of homesick, too. Have you ever heard the song about that? I love it.

I'll have to take a peek your way during a prayer next time we're at church - I'd keep an eye on your kids for you, but my hands don't reach far enough to keep them in line. ;0)

Rebecca said...

I think next time you get to sing that song in a meeting, you should just start signing along enthusiastically. I'm laughing just thinking about that! :)

~j. said...

I have thought about this post so often over the past few days...

I think the first time I ever saw people signing a hymn was at a devotional on campus, and I cried. I cry every time. It's so beautiful. And now I consider a different Hosannah Shout. More beautiful.

Gerb said...

One of my favorite R.S. lessons EVER was when the teacher was talking about missionary work. At the end we sang "Called to Serve" and she asked everyone who served a mission in another language to sing it in their language. I was a church service missionary at the MTC for almost a year, so I figured that counted. I signed it the whole way through and was pleased as punch to do it. Otherwise I feel like people will think I'm showing off, so I keep my hands to myself.

You should come with me to the local Deaf ward sometime and see it in action. (It would be a good excuse for me to go again). Did you know it's just down the street from us?

~j. said...

I had no idea. Well, I had some idea. I think I knew it was in a nearby stake, but that's all. I'd LOVE to go. Do you know what time it meets?

Gerb said...

Nice and early...9:00 a.m. Let me know when you want to go.

~j. said...

Okay. That would involve pawning my kids off on someone else (since our ward meets at 9 as well, and Darin's usually in meetings at that time) because, let's be honest, if I bring all my kids I won't be able to pay attention. Let me see what I can do.

Gerb said...

If it would help, my oldest 2 girls (age 13 & 12) have both volunteered to attend your ward with your kids or have them come over here to be tended so you can go. You can email me at gerbdonna at gmail.