"And now, behold, I say unto you that it is not revealed, and no man knoweth where the city Zion shall be built, but it shall be given hereafter. Behold, I say unto you that it shall be on the borders by the Lamanites."
Because the Saints left the subsequently revealed location for the city of Zion in Jackson County, Missouri, over 170 years ago, it's easy to dismiss this passage as strictly historical in interest. Today we tend to focus on Zion as a people rather than a city, and with the exception of some predictions that large numbers the Saints will return to Missouri just prior to Christ's second coming, the sense of precise location for Zion has faded from our interest.
And yet the idea of Zion as a border place, neither in one world or the other, continues to occupy my mind. Zion should be built, says the Lord, at this intersection of two cultures. Zion should be built at a certain distance from the heart of any given order of the world. Is this so that in Zion different traditions can meet and merge, that all knowledge and truth may be gathered into one? Is it so that by its very marginality Zion will be more accessible for all?
In March, the only other Mormon from my old college theatre program gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. She and her husband gave the child the first name Elise, meaning "from God" and the middle name "Yumi", Japanese for "the reason for beauty." I thought of my own sister Judith Shandiin, whose middle name is Navajo, of my brother Mattathias Singh, a staunch Mormon named for Jewish and Sikh heroes, of Haruka Louisa and Nanika Basant, and wondered how many Latter-day Saints have multiculturalism written so clearly in their very names.
If Zion is to be built on the borders, perhaps we are doing more to build it than we sometimes believe.