Circling the Wagons

One thing Mormons do better than just about anyone is to circle the wagons. As a people, we love to help. We prepare, we practice, we take classes, we bring casseroles, and heaven knows, we store our wheat. I’ve watched with fascination over the years, as my membership in the church has mellowed from newbie to fully-aged and sort-of mellowed active, adult, endowed member. I’ve participated, as my friends practice what they preach- or at the very least, make a mighty effort to do so. I read posts like this one, and especially this one and I find myself swelling with pride. These are My People, and I am counted among the flock.

Now, I find myself in the unenviable position of needing that charity we are so famous for. For a long time, I was the newbie in my ward, the convert everyone checked on and worried about and showered with love. The bloom is long off that rose. And yet- in the middle of this horrible divorce, where I cannot see what is coming, and cannot yet sort out the wreckage behind me, I look up through the dust to see a circle around me.

The wagons have been circled, and I and my children are safely in the middle of that tight, loving, organized, closely bound company of Saints.

I don’t know what lies outside the circle. And the thing is, I am learning I don’t have to know. There are people willing to fight that battle for me. This stuns me. I stand in the middle of the circle, and am awed by the resources and love marshaled on my behalf. Can I really sit and warm myself by the fire of my friend while someone else helps find my cows and serves my children some dinner? Not only can I, but I am told I am blessing others if I allow myself to be so served.

At first I was dubious. It’s far more comfortable to give to others than it is to receive. Everyone knows that. And heaven knows, the last thing I want is to ever expect anyone to do things for me I am perfectly capable of doing myself. And yet the circle tightened. The love increases…

Packages are left on my doorstep. Checks are slipped in my pocket at church. Cards arrive with the post, food and gifts show up on my welcome mat. Emails flood my mailbox. A home teacher or a bishop stops by to give me a blessing. Another sister was driving by and felt compelled to stop and take my kids. My son is baptized, and on 24 hours notice the room is overflowing with friends from multiple wards. It is an embarrassment of riches, were I to try and catalog it.

My heart is humbled by what is being done for me and my children. Of one thing I am certain; there is no earthly way for me to ever repay the people who have circled around me, who have given me shelter in the storm, who have loved me and preformed miracles as the hands of my Savior. Indeed, no repayment is humanly possible.

Miracles happen. They happen as normal, everyday people reach out to others in their hour of need, and allow the Lord to work through their hands. Hands that wipe the brow, sop the tears, hold the weeping and grieving, and hands that guide the traces of the wagons into that tight, loving, safe circle. Those hands are working miracles. Those hands are the hands of Christ.


  1. Tracy, this is beautiful. I’m so glad that you are surrounded by love right now.

  2. “there is no earthly way for me to ever repay the people who have circled around me, who have given me shelter in the storm, who have loved me and preformed miracles as the hands of my Savior. Indeed, no repayment is humanly possible.”

    Repayment might not be possible, but you do all of us a wonderful service by sharing posts like this with us. Perhaps it’s not repayment that is important; perhaps it’s just extending the giving to those who need what you can provide – even in your time of need.

    You are doing that with these posts, and I appreciate deeply that gift.

  3. Beautiful post, Tracy. I’m so glad to hear that those around you are serving you so well in such a difficult time.

  4. Gorgeous.

    You have been in my thoughts much as of late. I’m so glad you feel surrounded by people who care. I hope you know there are so many not physically by you whose hearts are with you.

  5. Thank you all. The support from blogs and people online is a big part of that circle of love and safety. It’s definitely a tangible in my life.

  6. CJ Douglass says:

    an embarrassment of riches

    I’m stealing this…well said!

  7. Tracy, your post brought tears to my eyes. It is especially difficult sometimes to receive things, but you are doing it in the right spirit, and that is marvelous.

  8. This is beautiful, Tracy. Thank you for sharing. You and your family are in my prayers.

  9. I’m so glad you are being cared for. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Stephanie says:

    Tracy, your children are learning valuable lessons through all of this. As I reflect on my (relatively short) life, I am profoundly grateful for the experiences I had after my parents divorced and we were living in poverty. The service my family received taught me so much about succoring the needs of others. As a child, we received gifts anonymously, and as an adult, I teach my children to give gifts anonymously. It’s part of the circle. The kindness being shown to your family right now will be a powerful influence on your children. Of course you wouldn’t have chosen for them to learn these lessons this way, but there are many silver linings. Bless you this Christmas.

  11. Mark Brown says:

    You’re the best, TM.

    I am so please that your feel loved and supported.

  12. A perfect start to a new week. To me, you describe Zion. All may not be well here, but sometimes some things are, in fact, going very well.

  13. Tracy, I’m glad you’ve been blessed with such an experience of support and acceptance in the church.

  14. I’m glad you’re not alone, Tracy. I have to think, too, that someday when you’re pulling your own wagon into the circle around some stubborn, independent, but hurting family, you’ll be able to convince them to let you help precisely because you’ll be able to tell them of your own experiences. Not that that makes now any easier, but your time will come.

  15. I’ve always wondered, do the wagons circle clockwise or counterclockwise? Is there a rule?

    No matter, I’m just glad they are there for you. Ditto on Mark’s (11) first line.

  16. In my mind, it’s clockwise. Widdershins is a disinvoking direction, from my old Pagan days. :)

    Ardis, that is my constant prayer- that someday I will be allowed to bless others for my trials now.

  17. Tracy, I think you’re receiving so much love because you regularly give it!

  18. Oh, Tracy, your someday is today. Each and every post, every time you share your story, is a blessing for me. Often the deep need you fill convinces me that although we are strangers, somehow you know me and who I am and who I’m trying to be. Reading your words is a joy.

  19. Awesome, Tracy. It’s a testament to your maturity that you’re able to receive service so graciously.

  20. Beautiful Tracy, thank you.

  21. Holden Caulfield says:

    “One thing Mormons do better than just about anyone is to circle the wagons.”

    My gay son saw the wagons circling as he was left out, abandoned by his church friends. They no longer talk to him. During prop 8, he saw their families all have signs in their yards letting him know they weren’t interested in “his lifestyle” infecting their world. He is the same wonderful person he has always been but they now have no interest in him. So, yes, Mormons are good at circling the wagons. That’s good for some, bad for others.

    Sorry to rain on this well-meaning post but as heart-warming to you as the circling of wagons is, it was life-ruining for our family.

  22. Holden, not all Mormons were circling their wagons to leave your son out. In my personal circle of safety, there are several gay family members and friends.

    I’m so sorry for the pain this caused you- rest assured, it caused me angst and heartache as well. It serves none of us if we paint all Mormons with so broad a brush to assume all wagons in the train are the same. It may be harder to see, but some of us have rainbow (or feminist, or democrat, or Darwin, or…) stickers on our oxen’s yokes.

  23. God bless you Tracy, and thanks.

  24. Kevin Barney says:

    Beautiful as always, Tracy. Thanks.

  25. God bless, Tracy.

  26. I was deathly ill when I was living in Central America and I am really grateful for what the church members there did for me. They constantly brought me food, herbal remedies and one of my friends even took me to a colonoscopy once. I will remember their kindness in that vulnerable time until I die.

  27. Hugs to you, Tracy. Thank you for your beautiful, heartfelt posts–you always teach me with your words.

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