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Dear Father, Dear Son — a Mormon Mission Lament (Poem)

by Franz Bradford, a returned missionary

Dear Son,

In hallowed halls of carpeted walls, our tale unfolds,
Loyalty’s flame, a father holds,
A clash of spirits, unyielding, fierce,
As love and duty combine, pierce.

Behold! My son, with earnest eyes,
Embracing gospel’s call, your soul takes life,
In each obedient step, you sail my course,
A blessing to me, an unwavering force.

Your heart, a vessel of faith’s bright flame,
In the chains of creed, you receive your name,
With steadfast spirit, your soul stays bound,
To the teachings and truths, so profound.

In search of solace, you look within,
Where purity and righteousness begin,
No distant skies can lure you astray,
For you walk the path, come what may.

Oh, how your presence fills my heart,
A son of virtue, a work of art,
Your unwavering devotion, a blessed sight,
In him, the gospel’s radiance shines bright.

In the bustling airport, a faithful mission begins,
You embark on your quest, let bravery win.
A radiant pride within me, a testament so clear,
To the greatness in your heart, a pioneer without fear.

But amid the bustling crowd, I glimpse hesitation’s trace,
I see it in your eyes, a momentary pause in pace.
A tear concealed, a silent battle fought within,
Something loose that bound us, a struggle deep and thin.

As we stand amidst departures, emotions intertwine,
A farewell so profound, a mixture of yours and mine.
The weight of unspoken words, heavy in the air,

I say:

“Let love and faith persist, for you, He will always be near.
With each step forward, remember the charge you bear,
To return with honor, through trials and toil you’ll share.
Let courage be your compass, guiding through the night,
And righteousness your armor, shining with steadfast light.”

Amiss, a sudden call from the mission president, a thunderous blow,
The son returns early, a river of woe,
My heart crumbles, dreams turned to dust,
The son meets my gaze, anguish and disappointment, distrust.

Oh, tender seed of my blood and bone,
Why this new quest for truth?
Return Ye still, steadfast in belief,
The rest just please release.

Dear Father,

Through temples adorned with sacred art,
You sought solace, with fervent heart,
In rigid obedience, your certainty thrived,
My dreams slowly withered, my flame deprived.

But behold, dear father, I want to explore,
To question, to seek, to delve to the core,
In the depths of truth, my soul takes flight,
To reconcile my doubts, bring them to light.

Your faith, once a beacon, guiding my way,
Now my spirit craves more, a molding with my own clay,
In this vast universe, expansive and unknown,
I must forge my path, let my truth be shown.

But as I step forward, you hold me too tight,
Your unyielding loyalty, a blinding light,
Slowly squeezing out the space where I stand,
My voice drowned out by your unwavering demand.

I long to explore, to question, to grow,
To find my own convictions, wherever they flow,
Yet your rigid grip tightens with each passing day,
Leaving no room for my beliefs to have a say.

In the battle of our souls, I sense the strain,
The burden of your loyalty, a heavy chain,
As my spirit yearns to venture and explore,
Your resolute faith pins me fast to the floor.

Oh, how I once revered thy steadfast devotion,
Yet now it tastes as a suffocating potion,
My spirit, engulfed in thy dogmatic embrace,
No sacred space for my own truth to grace.

In the realm of beliefs, let freedom bloom,
Release me from thy dogma’s gloom,
For in this vast expanse, I long to find,
A sanctuary for my heart and mind.

Dear Son,

With tender words I reach out to thee,
Sending messages, hoping thou wouldst see,
General conference talks, God’s own words of light,
Texts filled with love, piercing the night.

When home visiting from your college place,
In these cherished moments, I patiently wait,
To gather ‘round, our family’s embrace,
And share in devotionals, a sacred space.

In tender whispers, I ask thee to pray,
To join us in faith, with no delay,
Hoping thou wouldst lend an attentive ear,
As we seek to rekindle what was once near.

Oh, my child, as you journey afar,
Remember the roots that shaped who you are,
In these home visits, let us re-combine,
The love and faith that forever will shine.

Dear Father,

Oh, dear father, I wish you could see,
The weight of your loyalty is consuming me,
For in the depths of its rigid hold,
Negativity thrives, my spirit feels cold.

Though I accept your calls to pray and devotion,
They only widen the chasm, causing more commotion,
Between myself, our family, and divine,
As I seek to find a path that truly aligns.

The ties that once bound us, now strain and decay,
As I question the price of allegiance I pay,
In the depths of my soul, a yearning to break free,
To explore my own truth, and let my spirit be.

Your loyalty to church, like a shadow, casts a gloom,
Doubts and fears flourish, like a poisonous bloom,
It stifles my growth, suppresses my voice,
Leaving me with no choice but to make a new choice.

So, father, I beseech you, open your heart,
To the plea of a child longing to depart,
From the confines of dogma, let love guide the way,
And embrace a faith where doubts can hold sway.

Let us find common ground, where understanding lies,
Where acceptance and love harmonize,
Release the chains that bind us, my dear father,
And let us together seek a truth that is broader.

Dear Son,

In the depths of my soul, a struggle unfolds,
As I question the path that my heart should now hold,
Should I relinquish tradition, embrace the new,
Or stand firm in my beliefs, unwavering and true?

Oh, the weight of this choice, it burdens my mind,
As I search for the answers I so long to find,
Should I yield to the winds of progressive thought,
Or anchor myself to the teachings I’ve been taught?

For in my heart, a desire burns bright,
To bridge the divide, to find common light,
To understand my child’s questioning soul,
Yet uphold the truths that have made me whole.

But does God call for rigidity, unwavering stance,
Or does He embrace growth, in every circumstance?
Should I hold fast to doctrine, unmoved and resolute,
Or open my heart, with empathy and pursuit?

Oh, the conflict within, it weighs on my soul,
As I strive to discern, to fulfill my patriarchal role,
To love my child, yet honor my faith,
To navigate this path, fraught with uncertain wraith.

In prayers, I seek guidance, divine intervention,
To find a path that aligns with God’s own intention,
For in His wisdom, the answers reside,
To unite love and truth, side by side.

So, dear child, know that my love holds true,
As I grapple with the choices I must pursue,
In this journey we walk, my heart is torn,
But I’ll seek understanding, together reborn.

Let us forge a bridge between old and new,
Where love and truth intertwine and accrue,
In the depths of my soul, I’ll find the way,
To embrace your growth, and in faith, I’ll stay.

Dear Father,

In the wake of my soul’s journey, I must confess,
The weight of my doubts, the ache of unrest,
For I’ve come to a crossroad, where truth must be faced,
And the path I must walk, with courage and grace.

I remember the good, the community we shared,
The friends and the memories, so deeply ensnared,
The warmth of acceptance, the love that embraced,
In their open hearts, I found solace and grace.

But the script I once held, it feels like a lie,
And the pain of its falsehood, it cuts me inside,
I cannot continue to practice, to hold on,
To a belief system where I no longer belong.

Oh, the bittersweet sorrow that tugs at my heart,
As I bid farewell and we drift apart,
I’ll treasure the moments, the joy we once knew,
But I must follow the path that feels mostly true.

To those who embraced me, with love so profound,
I carry your kindness, your voices resound,
But the pain of pretending, of living a lie,
Is a burden too heavy, it’s time to say goodbye.

So, I walk my own path, with uncertainty’s embrace,
Leaving behind the faith I once did embrace,
With gratitude and love, I bid you adieu,
And in my search for truth, my soul feels renewed.

Farewell to the script, farewell to the ties,
I’ll seek my own truth, beneath boundless skies,
May we find understanding, in our separate quests,
And embrace the blood that still binds us, amidst life’s tests.

Dear Son,

Oh, my child, I hear your weary plea,
As you venture into realms that feel unknown and free,
But I implore you, with love in my voice,
To reconsider, to make a better choice.

Come, sit with me, let us talk once more,
Listen to the words of our prophet, so pure,
In the halls of General Conference, we’ll find,
Guidance and wisdom to nourish your mind.

There’s still a place for you within these walls,
A chance to embrace faith’s beckoning calls,
Be like Nephi, a river, ceaselessly running,
Into the fountain of all righteousness, sin always shunning.

I understand you have doubts, a questioning soul,
But let not your heart be hardened, that is my goal,
For the truth is vast, beyond your perception,
Yet within these teachings, there lies eternal redemption.

One more General Conference talk, my son,
Open your heart, be attentive to this one,
The words may touch you, inspire your being,
Leading you back to the path worth seeing.

I reminisce about the times we shared,
The community, the love, the ones who cared,
Mutual activities and friendships held tight,
They still await you, with arms open wide.

Dear Father, (The words I didn’t say)

No more conference talks, they go unread,
No space for my voice, no room in your head,
Our relationship, once cherished and dear,
Now tainted with pain, it’s no longer there.

In shadows cast by your unwavering creed,
A burden weighs upon my soul, indeed,
With beliefs unchallenged, chains tightly wound,
I’m branded as Laman, in your thoughts, how profound.

The fear creeps in, like whispers of doubt,
That I won’t be worthy, won’t make it out,
To heaven’s embrace, where love should reside,
But your rigid faith estranged me, cast me aside.

I’ll rise above, reclaim my own worth,
For my journey of truth, I shall traverse,
In my heart, I know I’m not defined,
By the limitations of your small, narrow mind.

I’ll find my own path, seek my own grace,
Embrace a love that knows no rigid space,
For in the realm of acceptance, I’ll find,
A place where my soul can truly unwind.

Dear Father, (The words I did say)

It saddens me deeply, the rift we now face,
But to nurture my being, my own space I must trace.
Know that I love you, even from afar,
But our connection, now strained, must take a pause.

Goodbye, dear father, with love in my heart,
May we find peace, though we’re apart,
May understanding and acceptance unfold,
As we each walk paths, unique and bold.

Dear Son,