Reflections on “There But For You Go I”
In 1947, the song writing team of Lerner and Loewe created a musical called “Brigadoon.” It’s a fantasy that takes place in the highlands of Scotland in a village that only appears once every 100 years. One of the songs that I’ve always loved and always brings tears to my eyes is called “There But For You Go I.”
One wouldn’t think that a lyricist in the late 40s would have insight into the heart of a single LDS man in the early 21st century who experiences same sex attraction. But Alan J. Lerner did! The song describes a man who is all alone and then by chance is found by love in the most improbable of circumstances.
“I saw a man with his head bowed low,
His heart had no place to go,
I looked and I thought to myself with a sigh
There but for you go I.
Lonely men around me,
Trying not to cry,
Till the day you found me,
There among them was I…”
I saw a production of “Brigadoon” recently and I’ve been thinking about this song ever since and why it means so much to me. In the context of the show this song is a declaration of love between a man and a woman. Beautiful, and meaningful. But there is something more. much more. As I thought about this song and how it seems to resonate so deeply with me I was reminded of the Good Shepherd seeking and finding his lost sheep.
For many years I felt all alone in my experience and very often felt a profound sense of loneliness. Much like the man whose heart had no place to go I wandered in my solitude waiting and longing and never really being sure of who I was or where if any place I might fit in His kingdom.
But something happened as I started to open up and share what I was feeling with others. I found other faithful LDS people who experienced same sex attraction and had found peace. I started finding other people who weren’t necessarily experiencing same sex attraction like I was but they understood. When I turned my gaze toward Christ, he found me.
One time I asked someone who has since become a dear friend for a Priesthood blessing. I had been struggling and feeling profoundly lonely and discouraged. We hardly knew each other at the time, yet the Good Shepherd knew and loved both of us. In a few minutes of what was a most sacred experience, a new friendship was born. He and his wife and children have become family to me. “Lonely men around me, trying not to cry, till the day Christ found me, there among them was I.”
Some days are still tough. I still cry and feel lonely. But my Savior Jesus Christ has found me and called me His. And as I follow him in faith, He leads me through the darkness to his light. As I strive on the path one day if I stay true to him He’ll take me home and I’ll feel the warmth of his embrace that no mortal experience can compare to. “I saw a man who had never known, the love that was all his own, I thought as I thanked all the stars in the sky, There but for you go I!”
Lyrics in quotation marks by Alan J. Lerner from the musical Brigadoon