Segullah Mormon women blogging about the peculiar and the treasured 2017-08-16T20:36:57Z http://segullah.org/feed/atom/ WordPress Sherilyn Olsen <![CDATA[Hey, White Friends]]> http://segullah.org/?p=26437 2017-08-16T20:36:57Z 2017-08-16T04:23:53Z   Since becoming part of a biracial family, I’ve explored possible answers to this question more times than I ever previously imagined. Where one answer resolves, more questions pop up faster than youths at a newly-blessed refreshment table.     Sorting through the quagmire of questions, one truth continues to surface. When white people who...

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Since becoming part of a biracial family, I’ve explored possible answers to this question more times than I ever previously imagined. Where one answer resolves, more questions pop up faster than youths at a newly-blessed refreshment table.  

 

Sorting through the quagmire of questions, one truth continues to surface. When white people who care about their brothers and sisters of color say nothing (in the grocery line, on social media, at the polls, in class, church, work, and school), the two voices resounding are the overt racist and occasional victim. The result? More polarization. More pain.

 

Since the majority of America falls (silently) somewhere in between, what will inspire us? How can we help turn concern into action? More questions, I know. I offer an analogy with the intent to encourage my white brothers and sisters who find themselves in support of those who suffer at the mouths and hands of others’ hate, but don’t know quite what to do about it.

 

Sometimes people skip a funeral, because they don’t know what to say to the survivors. At some point though, nearly all of us will feel compelled to attend, because we care for one or more of the survivors more than we care about our own comfort. Or, maybe we know what it’s like to lose someone. Inside the funeral home or church, as we wait to approach our grieving friend, we rehearse what to say.

 

I don’t know what to say…How are you?…Let me know if you want to talk…I’m so sorry…   

 

Nothing will sound right. Nothing will sound like enough. It’s okay that words fail the situation. It’s awkward. Grief and loss are the worst! This is a key time when our presence means more than words. They will remember that we were there, and it counts. It really does.

 

Today in America, people of color endure heightened threats to employment, liberty, and life, and tragically, some threats become realized. With every white supremacist rally, violent act, or racist-fueled murder, our brothers and sisters of color inside and outside the Church lose something — dignity, security, confidence, and I don’t know what else. Let’s ask. And then, listen. 

 

Like a funeral, we will not receive an invitation to attend their grief. Instead, we must watch for it in tweets, on Facebook, across the Church pew, and anywhere else we notice our grieving friends and family members. There will not be a scheduled time to approach. We don’t have to dress up, or rehearse. Just show up! Say anything to acknowledge their struggle. Their loss.

 

I don’t know what to say… How are you?… Do you want to talk?…  I’m so sorry…

 

Nothing will sound right. Nothing will sound like enough. It’s awkward. Though, just like at a funeral, our presence will matter. So would our avoidance. Either way, actions speak.

 

Following the horrors in Charlottesville, another one of my Facebook friends, a black man, posted about his experience in a Utah ward on Sunday:

“I sat in church today with a silent prayer for some indication that God was aware of me and the concerns of my heart. Sacrament meeting was wonderful, and the talks were balm to my soul. Sunday School was timely, BUT Priesthood Quorum–oh Priesthood Quorum!!! Tim Heaton gave what will likely go down in history as the greatest prayer I’ve ever heard and that was followed up by words of encouragement from Bishop Kemp. I think I have one of the most culturally affirming congregations in the church. Redwood Ward, you showed up today!! Thank you!!”

 

Let’s be the Redwood Ward! Let’s circle around the scared and love the hated. We will get better at it. And when we do, we will wonder why we were ever silent about something as basic as the right to be.

 

 

(If you’re already doing what I’m suggesting here and want to do more, check out this article, “Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Resource Guide.”)

 

How is this working in your ward and community? What are ways we can support our threatened brothers and sisters?

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Sandra http://thekitchennatural.com <![CDATA[August Editorial and Table of Contents]]> http://segullah.org/?p=26420 2017-08-14T22:43:20Z 2017-08-14T20:07:02Z My mother has been out of the country on a mission for 18 months out of the last 23.  Another 22 until she returns home again. She and my father served a mission in Ghana and were called to lead the Monrovia, Liberia Mission while in the field. I can say I’m happy for them,...

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My mother has been out of the country on a mission for 18 months out of the last 23.  Another 22 until she returns home again. She and my father served a mission in Ghana and were called to lead the Monrovia, Liberia Mission while in the field. I can say I’m happy for them, I believe in God and the good work they are doing, but it’s a very long time for them to be gone and often I don’t want to say or think those things. It’s a very long time to go without my mother and father. And sometimes I just want them here.

My sister announced her pregnancy minutes after they announced their call. She delivered her first one month ago yesterday. It was the first grandchild my mother was not present to greet. Another sister was with her the day she delivered. My sister-in-law visited. Cousins and aunts brought meals. I’ll be leaving tomorrow to go meet my sister, now a fellow mother; and meet her child, my nephew. One more sister and one more first child are expected at Christmastime.  (There are four of us and a brother.) It’s a lot to miss.

When I took in foster children I longed for her to hold those babies and me.  Church members offered rote lines intended as comfort.

“What an honor to have your parents serve.”
“They are where God needs them.”
“What a blessing for your family.”

No trite words can fill the vacancy of her or bandage the bleeding wound of her absence. I just have to feel it even if I have faith. This is not about faith, it’s about the loneliness and loss of a long time apart.

No trite words can fill the vacancy for Her either. I want to talk through the loneliness, examine what’s missing, and lean into the discomfort of being without. It can be felt even in faith in Her, Him, and their plan for us. This isn’t about faith, this is about the loneliness and loss of a long time apart.

This month the Segullah Journal is themed along the longing for, search for, and connection of mothers on earth and Mother above. The languid lines of the poetry, prose, and essays explore what it is to mother and be mothered.  Featured Writer Fiona Givens opens with an essay written just for Segullah considering the “Mother of All Living” and the Tree of Life. Continuing with nature, Featured Artist Jenna von Benedikt discusses her depiction of animals and earth an interview by Linda Hoffman Kimball. Amanda Hamilton Ross examines what it is to be at home while she sits with a teen mother in rural Mexico. Dayna Patterson’s poem asks if we can learn her “Mother Tongue,” Thalia Pope’s Unspoken Prayer pleads for “just some grasp of your skirts’ hems.” Finally, Elizabeth Cranford Gracia reviews Rachel Hunt Steenblik’s just-released poetry collection Mother’s Milk. It’s a rich and thick edition this month.

Please join us in sisterhood as together we missing mothers- those lost, away, or unknown- borrow a line from Thalia Pope’s poem- “inch along this cord dividing sacrilege and faith.”

 

Sandra Clark Jergensen

Segullah Co-Editor-in-Chief

 

Features:

The Mother of all Living, the Good, the Evil and The Tree of Life” by Fiona Givens

Interview with artist Jenna von Benedikt by Linda Hoffman Kimball

Prose:

“Casa” by Amanda Hamilton Ross

Poetry:

“Unspoken Prayer” by  Thalia Pope

“If Mother Braids a Waterfall” by Dayna Patterson

Review of  Rachel Hunt Steenblik’s Mother’s Milk by Elizabeth Cranford Garcia

 

 

 

 

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Sandra http://thekitchennatural.com <![CDATA[The Mother of all Living, the Good, the Evil and The Tree of Life]]> http://segullah.org/?p=26424 2017-08-14T19:48:54Z 2017-08-14T19:38:24Z   Of all those feeling alone, forgotten and marginalized, the largest group I think must be the women of the Church. We find ourselves carrying not only our own crosses but the crosses of those we love as well.  As a result of pain and anguish many of us are looking for the comfort of...

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Of all those feeling alone, forgotten and marginalized, the largest group I think must be the women of the Church. We find ourselves carrying not only our own crosses but the crosses of those we love as well.  As a result of pain and anguish many of us are looking for the comfort of a Mother’s love.  I do hope this short essay will bring some solace and some hope to those of us who are searching for evidence of Her presence in our lives. 

-Fiona Givens, August 8, 2017

For centuries Eve’s decision to eat of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil, followed by her husband, has been considered by traditional Christianity as an act of unforgivable hubris.  In the Mormon tradition Eve is considered to be the heroine of the human family—“The Mother of all Living.”  It is she, who first took the courageous step, at enormous cost to herself, to the indispensable educative experience that would prepare us for a more abundant life with the Divine Family. “They have become as one of us; knowing good and evil,” is an acclamation of joy not wrath.   The Church Father, Irenaeus (1), recognized what a crucial role mortality would play in our journey: “How would [mankind] have discerned the good without knowing its opposite?  First-hand experience is more certain and reliable than conjecture…The mind acquires knowledge of the good through the experience of both [good and evil], and becomes more firmly committed to preserving it.  First, by penance, [or suffering], he rejects [evil], because it is bitter…Then he realizes what it really is—the opposite of goodness and sweetness.

In her Ode to Joy, Eve now possessed of complete understanding, reiterates the importance of experiencing the “sweet” as well as the “bitter”: “We never should have known good and evil.” Perhaps, more importantly, however was the recognition that without eating of that fruit she and Adam would not have been able to obey the sole command: “to multiply and replenish the earth,” thus opening the door of Godhood to the entire human family.  Only by progressing to mortality could the Covenant the Gods had made with us—co-existent intelligences/spirits/souls as the Prophet Joseph called us–take full effect  This was a Covenant that necessitated a suffering, educative mortality for its fulfillment—the coming of the Suffering God/Man, Jesus the Christ, who would not only give us life by breaking the bonds of death but, being God, His was the power to fulfill the Covenant by opening the gates to the more abundant life—the life of the Gods.  It is for this reason, perhaps that He is described by Eve as “the joy of [our] redemption. (Moses 5:11)

There are two trees that are named in the Garden narrative and they are adjacent to each other:  “the tree of life in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2:9)  The one carries within its fruit mortality and death, the other carries within its fruit resurrection and eternal life.  The suggestion of the proximity of both trees with their different fruit suggest their collaborative enterprise for the deification of humankind.  It is not possible to have one without the other.  Both are essential for the gift of the abundant life.

The reasons why Eve partakes of the fruit belonging to the tree that carries within it not only death but mortality is important for our understanding of the second tree—the Tree of Life.  The fruit of the former contains three essential properties:  goodness, beauty and wisdom. We are enjoined to seek for Wisdom because Wisdom has the power to unfold the divine mysteries and to give eternal life (D&C 11:7).  In our distinctly Mormon scripture we are reminded of the ancient scripture and the promise: “Long life is in her right hand;/in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are peace. She is [the] tree of life.”  (Proverbs 3:16-19)

To my mind, It is this particular attribute of the fruit that finally drew Eve towards to the tree of the knowledge (experience of good and evil) because she recognized Wisdom in it.  Among all the fruit of the trees in the orchard, it was Wisdom for which she was searching.  For, Wisdom is another name for The Mother, known also among the Hebrews as the Asherah, the Shekhina and the Matronit.  Her symbol is the Menorah—a stylized golden almond tree with a candlestick in the centre (representing Yahweh) and three golden branches on either side. (Exodus 25:31-37)   The Menorah—The Tree of Life–is reputed to have stood originally in the most holy place of Solomon’s Temple.  It is, therefore no surprise that the Tree of Life not only stands not only at the portal to mortality and death in the Garden Temple but that She is also to be found in the Golden Temple at the end of the biblical text–the Entrance to the Abundant Life, made possible by the suffering, the death and the resurrection of Her beloved Son.  

Given that the work of the Gods is to “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of [humankind]”, it should be no surprise to find the Mother bidding each of her adoptive children—joint heirs with the only begotten—welcome to the Kindom of Heaven as She was there in the beginning to welcome us to mortality. In our individual wilderness walking She continues to reveal Herself in the good, the beautiful and the wise as she gently encourages us along our own paths of loss and suffering, providing us comfort as did the Angel who appeared in the Garden of Gethsemane to sustain the Son as He struggled to bear the unimaginable combined yet individuated weight of all our heart breaks.

Unfortunately, stated Margaret Barker “hostility to Wisdom was a hallmark of the Deuteronomists [reforming Hebrew scribes], and due to their influence, the Mother and her tree have been almost forgotten—but not in the Book of Mormon.” (2,3) One of the first edifices Nephi built upon arriving in the Americas, was a temple, which “I, Nephi, did build…and I did construct it after the manner of the Temple of Solomon.” (Nephi 5:16).  Undoubtedly, therefore, in this replica of Solomon’s Temple, the Tree of Life regained her prominent position as the light-giving Menorah.  

The Tree of Life dominates the Book of Mormon narrative, particularly the defining, shared visions of both Lehi and Nephi at the beginning of the text.  In Nephi’s Garden narrative, he describes the Tree as beautiful beyond all beauty and white beyond all that is white.  Nephi exclaims that this Tree “is precious above all.” (1N11:9) The definition of “all” is ambivalent.  It could mean that the Tree is precious above all  trees or, more likely, that the Tree is precious above everything else. Precious above all because She is Wisdom, bearing the gifts of enlightenment and eternal life. She also bears the fruit that is Her most precious gift—Her Son.  From Lehi’s vision we learn that this fruit is the most sweet, the most desirable, that which has the power to give “exceedingly great joy.” (1Nephi:8).  The “exceeding great joy” He offers each of us is the more abundant life—that which the Gods live—a joy acquired through the expansion of our hearts and minds by picking up our cross and following Him. (Moses 7:41; Matt 6:24; Mark 8:34, 10:2; Luke 9:23, 14:27 ).  

Christ is also represented by Lehi as an iron rod leading to the Tree of Life.  A  much better rendition of the word “rod” would be “branch.” If we remember that the ark held the “budding rod of Aaron” we understand that the rod is not made of iron but of wood.  Not surprisingly, therefore, is the ancient understanding that the blooming buds belonged to the branch of an almond tree—presumably the Tree of Life—similar to those fashioned for the Temple Menorah.  It is important to note that the Menorah was constructed from one piece of almond wood and then overlaid with gold, suggesting (as do the visions) the unified collaborative enterprise of the Mother and the Son for our divinization. (Exodus 25:32).

In Nephi’s vision the branch represents “the word of God”—that is to say—the Christ, who leads the family He has adopted through baptism back to the Tree of Life. (Mosiah 18:8). That this is a Temple narrative is emphasized by Nephi’s equating the Tree of Life with the Fountain of Living Waters—both of which are described by Nephi as representations of the love of God. The Tree and the fountain of living waters are symbols of Wisdom–the Mother of the Lord—“ the Redeemer of the world.”

When we turn to the end of the biblical narrative in the Book of Revelation the Tree of Life is again central to John’s temple narrative: “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To [her] that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God (Rev 2:7).  “And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.  In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Rev 22:1-2)

1.  Irenaeus (130-202, Turkey) Irenaeus was one of the earliest expounders of the Christian faith, and wrote with authority. He remembered with awe the days in which he sat “in the place where . . . Polycarp used to sit and discourse,” and how he “listened eagerly” to the disciple of John, and made notes of what he heard, “not on paper, but in my heart.”[i] In the writings of Irenaeus, we hear some of the purest and most undiluted doctrines as taught by Jesus and his apostles. “Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, of his boundless love became what we are that he might make us what he himself is.”[ii]

[i] Irenaeus, The Writings of Irenaeus, vol. 2, trans. Rev. Alexander Roberts, D.D. and Rev. W. H. Rambaut, A.B. (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1869), 159.

[ii] Irenaeus, Against Heresies V, in Henry Bettenson, ed. and trans., The Early Christian Fathers (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969), 77.

2. Barker, Margaret “Joseph Smith and Preexilic Israelite Religion,” The Worlds of Joseph Smith: A Bicentennial Conference at the Library of Congress, edited by John W. Welch (Brigham Young University Press, 2006), 76.

3. Barker, Margaret “Joseph Smith and Preexilic Israelite Religion,” The Worlds of Joseph Smith: A Bicentennial Conference at the Library of Congress, edited by John W. Welch (Brigham Young University Press, 2006), 76

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Elizabeth Cranford Garcia http://elizabethcgarcia.wordpress.com <![CDATA[Review of Mother’s Milk]]> http://segullah.org/?p=26395 2017-08-14T19:33:21Z 2017-08-14T19:33:21Z What do we really know about Heavenly Mother? What sources do we have for our belief in her, other than the logic of latter-day leaders and our own desires? In the face of these problematic questions, Rachel Hunt Steenblik, in Mother’s Milk: Poems in Search of Heavenly Mother, attempts to understand Her, to make Her...

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What do we really know about Heavenly Mother? What sources do we have for our belief in her, other than the logic of latter-day leaders and our own desires?

In the face of these problematic questions, Rachel Hunt Steenblik, in Mother’s Milk: Poems in Search of Heavenly Mother, attempts to understand Her, to make Her real and knowable in a sincere and reverential way. Excerpts from two stunning poems best epitomize the central obstacles–Her absence, and the taboo surrounding any discussion of Her– in such a search:

From “Motherless Milk”:

“ . . . I wondered then
If Heavenly Mother walked into another room
So we would take the bottle.
I wondered then
If we are weaned.”

From “Saltwater”:

“The Mother’s tears
fill up the ocean —
all Her salty, sweet ones.
We can swim there,
but we cannot drink.

Throughout this collection, Steenblik explores the extended metaphor of a mother being separated from her child through birth, through weaning, through absence in order to help her navigate and discover Heavenly Mother, who said, “I’m sorry, / Mama’s milk is all gone,” and we “sobbed and sobbed” from our separation from her into this mortal existence. Her absence is keenly felt, despite our “Papa[‘s]” best efforts to “console” us. In this way, her discoveries about Heavenly Mother are natural and instinctive.

Yet she also takes on the role of the child, borrowing from children’s games–Marco Polo, Peek-a-boo–and books, channeling Judy Blume, Maurice Sendak, and P.D. Eastman: “Are you my mother?” She plays with the ways children conceive of absence and presence, emphasizing our own ignorance and desire.

Steenblik also lovingly illustrates the connections between childbirth and the atonement: ““Birth stories often / share the same / labor words, / I cannot do this anymore, before She does.” This suggests perhaps that what Christ suffered in order to save us was prefigured by our Heavenly Mother’s experience.

What is most notable about this collection is the way that Steenblik substitutes the Divine Masculine for the Divine Feminine into familiar scripture: that it is “Her work and glory” that must be accomplished; that we are looking for messengers from “her Mother”; that “The Mother was not in the wind, / nor in the earthquake [. . .] / but in a still small voice”; that “before She formed / me in the belly, / She knew me”; that “The Mother loved us / as much as the Father. / They sent Their Son.” Each poem as well is brief, like verses of scripture, so that the collection itself becomes a book of scripture in its own way.

While this seems like a simple manipulative device, it has the effect of reinserting Heavenly Mother into scripture, into our doctrine and discourse. It makes her present in the Godhead. Steenblik asks, “Is She the woman / in the wilderness / who was nourished there,” –like Hagar, is she banished from our doctrine–or is she “the God who prepared her place?” With this collection, she asserts the latter, and calls off Her banishment, welcoming Her back into our history.

Steenblik also shows a movement from the anxiety of absence in the beginning of the collection, with poems such as Separation Anxiety, First Grief, Frantic, Absent Mothers, Holes– to a peace and awareness that is comforting and hopeful. The dialogue between these sections is distinct. Compare:

Every Day
I woke up again
without my Mother

to

“When I awoke to Her absence
She soothed me.
You woke up and
your Mommy was gone,
That must have been
so scary.”

Despite the ways she plays with scripture and speculates on a topic that many Mormons feel is taboo, she attempts to place this contemplation within the tradition of the LDS faith by beginning and ending it with prayer. In Invocation, she asks:

Dear God,
May I know
the Mother as
She knows me,
may I love her as
She loves me.
In Jesus’  name,
amen.

Here, she both emphasizes the traditional forms of address and closure, but also the need for permission to begin such a journey. That her intentions are pure and holy, not an attempt to subvert faith or upend tradition. She emphasizes what we have read in the Book of Mormon, that “ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul” (2 Nephi 32:9). Thus, she attempts to situate herself and her search within mainstream LDS discourse.

If there were anything in her collection I might take issue with, it would be the way she uses and reinforces the traditional association between Woman and the Moon: “My brother dreamt / he carved the moon / into the shape of a woman”; Her body is “warm as the moon”; In “Luna,” “She is the / gentlest light, / and kind, / offering brave / hope in / the darkness; She is the “Ancient of Nights.”

What I find problematic here is that it accepts the traditional dichotomy of yin and yang–woman associated with darkness and chaos and emotion, as opposed to logic and daylight, which has often been used as a tool to oppress and discount women: women are “emotional” and can’t be reasoned with; they’re “cyclical” and inconstant, and other rubbish. But specifically in an LDS framework, the moon represents a lower degree of glory than the Sun. But if Heavenly Mother is an equal part of the Godhead, united with the Father, as the rest of the collection attempts to achieve, shouldn’t the image associated with her also be the Sun, turning traditional imagery on its head?

Finally, a word about style. These short poems are simple and straightforward. There is little that is surprising or elaborate in the language. Yet this style is completely appropriate and deliberate rather than novice. It is the language of the myth: “Creation is . . . snow, birds, trees, moon, and song.” It is the language of every woman: “The Mother Delights in Plainness / She speaks to us in ways we / understand,” especially for Mormons who need the language of primary songs rather than the esoteric metonymy of Isaiah. But it also emphasizes the yearning we have for our Heavenly Mother; the brevity of these verses and the paucity of the language, leaves us slightly unsatisfied, mirroring our own desire for knowledge of Her.

The illustrations that accompany this collection, by Ashley Mae Hoiland, reinforce this yearning. The faces of the women and children are each blank, mirroring the lack of knowledge we have about Heavenly Mother’s identity, but also suggesting a crucial corollary: that regaining that knowledge would thereby reveal something about our own.

Ultimately, Steenblik’s collection is enlightening and thought provoking, comforting. It reminds us that our Heavenly Mother is there even if we can’t see Her. She illustrates this beautifully:

When my daughter cried
for me as I showered,
I gave her soft words.
I’m right here.
I’m just on the other side
of the curtain.
And suddenly,
I knew my Mother
was.

 

You can order Mother’s Milk through BCC Press.

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Sandra http://thekitchennatural.com <![CDATA[Interview with Artist Jenna von Benedikt]]> http://segullah.org/?p=26421 2017-08-14T19:27:38Z 2017-08-14T19:27:14Z “You often find birds being thought of as a messenger, or that they are bringing truth and light. I like that thought, that maybe we are here to bring good messages to other people or spread goodness.” Jenna von Benedikt.  From https://vimeo.com/129013446 On the far wall of the upstairs space at Meyer Gallery in Park...

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“You often find birds being thought of as a messenger, or that they are bringing truth and light. I like that thought, that maybe we are here to bring good messages to other people or spread goodness.” Jenna von Benedikt.  From https://vimeo.com/129013446

On the far wall of the upstairs space at Meyer Gallery in Park City, there’s a thrilling – but silent – hum going on. Bird wings flutter. Bees swarm. A buffalo huffs in the bright air. These images shimmer with a luxuriant richness of color, susurrating with life and vigor. They draw in the viewer to experience a rich meditation and exploration of color, light, design, and deeper meaning unique to each observer. Even the texture of the paintings is compelling and unpredictable. Speedy imprints of a palette knife adds energy. Overlapping subtle colors in open space produce a peaceful foil to the friskiness of the wings of birds or bees. The flattened backgrounds breath like inviting ethereal veils. Welcome to the artwork of Jenna von Benedikt.

English born painter Jenna von Benedikt moved to Utah – and its new topography, color palette and culture – as a teenager in 2000 with her family and horse. There her interest in art grew and she earned a Studio BFA at Brigham Young University. As part of that degree, she also studied at the Santa Reparata International School of Art in Florence, Italy. Her paintings range from abstracts to landscapes to animal images heaving with breath and symbolism. Each is compositionally strong, visually layered and meditatively rich. As Ben Chowder says of her work on MormonArtists:

Her passion for art is inseparably connected to faith and family, and explores the physical, spiritual, and metaphorical landscapes we place ourselves in through the choices we make. She’s driven by a quest to enjoy the Creation as a whole, as well as mankind’s part in it.
http://mormonartist.net/interviews/jenna-von-benedikt/

In a 2015 interview with Garrick Infanger of TheKrakens.com, artist Jenna von Benedikt explains the presence of birds in so many of her paintings:

 

A long time ago I looked up the definition of “Jenna”. It means ‘little bird.’ Other meanings have referenced “heaven”. So I started drawing and painting birds as self-portraits, and as characters I read about in the Bible. My painting ‘The 11 tweeting the whereabouts of the 12th’ reflected the apostles and the betrayal of Judas and the things they must have ‘tweeted’ to each other when they found out. This series has definitely sparked an internal study of myself. I liked the idea that birds can go places most humans cannot, or at least look down on a place/situation with a different perspective–which I have to keep working on. It’s as if they bridge the gap between heaven and earth… scriptures often refer to them as messengers. Posing a personal question, what kind of message do I give to others? Two of my favorite scriptures (Matthew 6:26 and 3 Nephi 13:26) talk about birds in the sense that God knows them and always takes care of them. As His children, God does the same for us, we just have to trust Him.

The 11 tweeting the whereabouts of the 12th – Jenna von Benedikt

Segullah is thrilled to interview Jenna, asking questions about her art, life, and work.

Segullah: “When you were little – when you were a little “little bird” – what kind of visual arts projects or other creative ventures did you enjoy? How do those early explorations inform the work you do now?”

JennavB: I remember painting a picture of the Royal family on some poster paper when I was around six years old. My school class was performing an assembly on the Queen, and we each held up our posters and said our little spiel. My teacher, Miss Gullett, was extremely patriotic and she set up an art club and played old war tunes on her piano while we painted and did our work. It’s probably the first significant memory I have of learning to paint and using paintbrushes. We were allowed to be messy, and our images were never wrong. I’m still a shade messy at times, and I still paint subjects near and dear to my heart… and what I consider significant to my roots and family.

Segullah: Your work includes abstracts, landscapes and many paintings with birds and animals. How did your art evolve?

JennavB: My work was heavily abstract throughout my BFA education and for a couple of years after. I was interested in movement and process. After time, I developed a desire to challenge myself – to do more realistic (or as my family said more “relatable”) subjects. I did a few self-portrait drawings, and started developing landscapes. Around the same time I looked up the meaning of Jenna in a baby name book I had, and ONE of the meanings was ‘Little Bird.’ It was as if a light went on and I decided to draw/paint birds as a way of putting myself directly into the pieces, and to play around with spiritual concepts too. I liked the ideas of what birds could mean on an aesthetic as well as spiritual level. They are beautiful little bridges connecting earthly and heavenly realms. They see from a different perspective. They too are on a journey, finding themselves landed for a season and then off again on a new experience. Animals change the way we act and think, and I love to believe that even one little bird makes a great and wonderful contribution to life.

Segullah: When you create your abstracts, what problems are you trying to solve or questions are you asking? Are they about the process of how your media will blend, contrast to other colors, create texture? Are they less process oriented and more instinctual or evocative? Has your approach changed over time?

JennavB: Ultimately, I ask myself, is this final image harmonious? Over the years my abstracts have changed from extremely bold and bright to being much softer, more harmonious with nature – attempting to develop a sense of quiet or peace. As I begin a piece I try to place some kind of linear design, sometimes to be included in the final work, other times to be painted over.

The nice part about abstracts is they allow me to concentrate on paint application—to play around with tools, mix colors, discover lines and repeat in layers of paint, singling out areas I find interesting, covering up parts I no longer want to keep. It’s a lot like people. We often just show our best or most interesting parts and hide away the rest, even though they are an integral part of the big picture.

Segullah: How do you know when a piece is complete?

For the most part, I spend the time I want on a piece until I feel it has good balance, is interesting and connects to its title or the story behind why I painted it, then move on to another. Sometimes, though, I’m just unsatisfied. I feel a painting needs more polishing or the coloring is off and needs to be reworked. I have benefited from learning to make fresh images on a consistent basis.

Segullah: What is the range of size of your artwork? What determines how large or small you will work?

My pieces range from eight inches to several feet. Smaller pieces are definitely more convenient to work on in my (kitchen) area, but larger pieces are exciting. Anything bigger than four feet forces me to shift the furniture around in my dining room, and for the next week we eat picnic style on the living room floor. Thankfully, my children love it, and my husband is patient with me. I used to keep painting sizes quite uniform, but the last couple of years I’ve enjoyed switching between smaller and larger pieces. They force me to use space differently and challenge design concepts.

Segullah: While you’re creating art, how do the practical matters of “will this sell?” effect your work? How much of your art is created because you just have to make it or your head and heart will burst?

JennavB: I paint the things I’m inspired to, and hope they will be well received! I worry less about “will it sell” than “is it original in concept and well crafted?” I was once taught, if your work is high quality and interesting, it will always be valued. All kinds of subjects sell, but are they quality pieces I’d want hanging in my home, or would feel comfortable with someone spending their hard-earned money on? Art is a very personal vocation. It’s as if you are selling yourself, not just an image. Right now my goal is to make the most interesting, highest-quality pieces I can.

Segullah: With your art education at BYU and at its Italian semester abroad, how – if at all – were the concepts of spirituality and artistic expression interwoven in the teaching? How has that instruction informed how you approach your own artistic process?

JennavB: There were two very different camps teaching in the Studio program when I was at BYU. One was pushing conceptual art, progressive in execution and design. The digital scene was starting to grow and there was definitely a push to leave traditional painting for other mediums including developing installations. The other, was “know the basics first”. As Hagen Haltern told me, “If you want to know how to paint, you have to be able to draw properly first and know that skill. Then you can move in the direction you want.” Wayne Kimball is a brilliant example of being original and excellent with his craft. I think it’s good to remember one or two semesters in an entry level class doesn’t automatically make you a great artist, it’s something that has to be developed over time, but it’s a great place to start. I’ve only appreciated that since I’ve desired to be a more serious artist and seeing what skills I need to work on. Now I see the value of taking workshops if you can or mentoring with those you most admire.

My first two years there I rarely heard instructors incorporate spiritual ideas. I was interested in processes and creating very abstract pieces, always trying to think outside of the box. My studies in Italy triggered a lot of questions on the influence of beautiful art, architecture, even food. Geographically it was a gorgeous place; the whole experience was life changing. Beauty was regularly enjoyed as part of the culture.

Shortly after, I also spent several days in New York studying art, and was amazed at the demand for (and monetary value of) high-quality art, as well as the stark, shocking, and sometimes pornographic nature of a lot of the pieces. When I returned to BYU I took classes from professors I felt were more traditional and who emphasized creating beauty; teachers who weren’t afraid to connect spiritual or LDS teachings—as our 13th Article of Faith suggests: “If there is anything virtuous, lovely or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” Or, as the temple reveals, “Glorious and Beautiful.” None of these professors, Wulf Barsch, Robert Marshall, Hagen Haltern, Bruce Smith created typical religious art, but what they did was inspiring in the local, LDS and international art communities and incorporated traditional craft and skill.

 

Now, a decade after graduating, I choose to paint subjects that connect me to my family – my #saintedbirds and #saintedbeasts are very much about my husband and me – my history, subjects that allow me to develop creatively and help remind me of who I am—and who gave me the time and talents to create. My titles are helpful for conveying specific thoughts or feelings.

I hope viewers feel inspired and enjoy my efforts, but ultimately once it’s done and out there, that’s out of my control.

Segullah: Is there a medium you haven’t tried but would like to? Or one that you’d like to get back and explore if you had more time, money, space, equipment?

JennavB: I would like to try stained glass work at some point – perhaps some bronze sculptures. I only got a taste at BYU. For now, I love working with oils and feel I still have a lot to explore with them.

Segullah: What feeds your artistic soul? Like other creative pursuits, the visual arts can be a pretty solitary process. What do you do to replenish your enthusiasm?

JennavB: I enjoy being in the mountains. I love singing – I took classical singing when I lived in Illinois, and it was both challenging and rejuvenating. I’d still like to continue taking lessons at some point. My husband and I were ballroom dance partners in college. Dancing and music are important to both of us. There’s something about them that visual art can’t express, but the combination of all three is what feeds me.

Segullah: I read that you used to set aside one hour for your artwork every day. What was that process like? Was it satisfying or frustrating or a combination of both?

JennavB: I once heard Jeff Pugh—an artist I admire—say that if you’re serious about selling art, you have to make a lot of art. He has about three paintings on the go every week. The bells in my head went off, and I was inspired to get organized and start producing: If I was serious about making this more than a hobby, I had to set aside a certain amount of time every day. With four (young) children time can be tight, but I created a routine and faithfully stuck with it. I have to set realistic goals, mind you, and family needs come first. During the school year, I teach my preschooler in the mornings, and then paint in the afternoon before the older ones come home from school. I’ve learned to work with the time I have and try and be as efficient (and flexible) as possible. I may not keep three paintings going a week, but I get a solid amount of work completed.

Segullah: What forums are there for other artists (LDS or not) to see each other’s work and share ideas?

In Utah there is Creative Collaborative: a monthly setting where a guest artist speaks on how they made it, offers tips and advice for a successful business, and suggests not giving up 🙂

Networking on social media—Instagram in particular—is huge.

Vision of the Arts is a scholarship intended help LDS (mothers) develop talents, and often contributes to fundraisers.

Facebook had several LDS art groups and there are art groups associated with most major towns. Reach out and ask questions. I wish I had been more proactive and brave enough earlier on to ask successful, full-time artists questions.

Segullah: Are there art communities you recommend?

I started by joining an art guild in Peoria, Illinois. That gave me an opportunity to be part of a show and meet new people. Participating in local guilds and markets or shows is a great way to gain support from the people around you, and may help you springboard elsewhere.

Segullah: How old are your children now? I’m so impressed that you’ve been creatively productive with your little ones around!

JennavB: Thanks! My children are from the ages 9-2 years old. It makes for a fun and busy household.

 

For more information on Jenna von Benedikt, check out these resources:

 

mormonartist.net/interviews/jenna-von-benedikt/

Jenna Means ‘Little Bird’-https://vimeo.com/129013446

jennavonbenedikt.com

https://www.meyergallery.com/artist.php?artist_id=215

https://www.ksl.com/?nid=1205&sid=36481833

http://www.15thstreetgallery.com/index.php/artists/artists/jenna-von-benedikt

 

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Dayna Patterson <![CDATA[If a Mother Braids a Waterfall]]> http://segullah.org/?p=26398 2017-08-14T19:08:56Z 2017-08-14T19:08:56Z in a country where no one speaks her language     if She’s a queen few bow to, few supplicate     if She’s a book no one reads, verses rich as incantation     if Mother weaves a forest floor from tree roots in a swath of clear cut     if She untangles rivers into tributary threads, the beds long since...

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in a country where no one speaks
her language     if She’s a queen
few bow to, few supplicate     if She’s a book

no one reads, verses
rich as incantation     if Mother weaves a forest
floor from tree roots in a swath of clear

cut     if She untangles rivers into tributary
threads, the beds long since dry
if She’s a gold rush with no prospectors     if

She’s a queen bee with no drones, honeycomb
without attendants     if in the morning, Mother conducts
a chorus of larks     if at night, a throng of nightingales

if Her children sleep through the song     if She holds a rope
through an oubliette’s trapdoor, calls
down to us, but we focus on the guard

who pushes grub through the bean slot
once a day, his thrilling fingertips, his footstep echoing
as he walks away     if we look up at last     if we relearn Mother

Tongue through hard listening     if She’s an awaiting
-rain arroyo, a golden seam for our broken
pottery, a worship-worthy starscape

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Thalia Pope <![CDATA[Unspoken Prayer]]> http://segullah.org/?p=26400 2017-08-14T19:18:49Z 2017-08-14T18:54:47Z Unspoken Prayer My questions, pleas to you ascend unvoiced, rendered slowly in the crunching of pine needles under feet, sweepings of slippers ascending spiral carpet stairs, fragile turnings and siftings of tissue-papered scripture sieved between verses. Do you speak likewise, to me, in these wordless tongues? Your husband’s baritone servants sit, stand, speak before lemon-oiled...

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Unspoken Prayer
My questions, pleas to you ascend unvoiced,
rendered slowly in the crunching of pine
needles under feet, sweepings of slippers
ascending spiral carpet stairs, fragile
turnings and siftings of tissue-papered
scripture sieved between verses. Do you speak
likewise, to me, in these wordless tongues?

Your husband’s baritone servants sit, stand,
speak before lemon-oiled pulpits in black
suits, behind temple veils in snow-white ties,
while yours and you seem hidden, like naked
blushing skin under cotton-poly cloth.
In Eden, Elohim—a plural name—
commands creation from a single mouth.

This silence slices and divides, my God,
twists my heart into braided tourniquets.
Why don’t you speak, stand, be seen beside him,
when he reveals himself? Why must bruises
blossom kneeling on hardwood floors, bed-side
half-God altars, lips forming prayers and praise
penned to off-white walls and just a portion

of the whole? My search for you is knotted
in the kneading and punching down of bowls
brimming with bread, in the reverent rustlings
of pleated robes slipping over shoulders,
in the clinking of plastic thimbles dropped,
empty of water, into trays. Command
me, Mother, to wash clean these muddied eyes

and tongue, for I long to taste your unearthed
fruits made tart by darkened loam, to drink your
sea of honeyed milk. Permit me, I pray,
some grasp of your skirts’ hems, so I may walk
unburdened by this doubt—and forgive me
(oh God, forgive me) as I inch along
this cord dividing sacrilege and faith.

 

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Amanda Hamilton Ross https://callmemandy.blog/ <![CDATA[Casa]]> http://segullah.org/?p=26416 2017-08-14T19:30:11Z 2017-08-14T06:33:28Z One afternoon Berenice told me that we were going to visit a new mother. It seemed a little strange to take the gringa who speaks awkward Spanish on this errand, but I know that’s what Mormons do: we show up. So I agreed to go, thinking, well, I’m also the mom of a baby, so...

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One afternoon Berenice told me that we were going to visit a new mother. It seemed a little strange to take the gringa who speaks awkward Spanish on this errand, but I know that’s what Mormons do: we show up. So I agreed to go, thinking, well, I’m also the mom of a baby, so maybe we’ll have something to talk about. I reviewed a few key vocabulary terms–pañal, dar pecho, dormido.

After a 30 minute group taxi ride and a fifteen minute walk, we stepped through the rusty gate into the small, dusty compound. The three little shacks were faded and sun-baked. A few children stared at us from the open doorways as the wind kicked up some dust. One house was more open than the rest and I could see an open fire pit, refrigerator, and a bucket with some water, the “kitchen”.  An older woman beckoned us further in and we passed some chickens, which scattered indignantly and ducked into the small patches of peripheral shade made by the tall trees surrounding the compound.

 

She led us into one of the other buildings which, as it turned out, was a bedroom. I mean, it was one, tiny room with a bed stuffed into it. The ceiling was surprisingly high, and around the bed and above the door were shelves stacked with neatly folded blankets, towels, and clothes. The tiny window high above the bed was obscured by dust, or cobwebs, or maybe just time. Some of the spots of available wall space were covered with a few wrinkled, unframed paper picture–one of the Pope, another of an idyllic mountain scene, still another of a singer I didn’t recognize. To one side, there was an old upright dresser covered with girlish knickknacks and to the other side were a vertical stack of old folding chairs.

Berenice and I sat in chairs, facing each other. A girl, who I soon realized was the new mom, sat on her bed. My knees almost touched hers. She had her baby bundled up in several thick blankets and held him with a confidence earned through many, many hours of watching younger siblings. Yet even though she held her chin firm and “shushed” confidently, she didn’t look like a mom. She looked like a child. Her dark hair was slung into a low ponytail that hung down to her waist. She was dressed in sweatpants with grey-stained knees and a sweatshirt with sleeves that weren’t quite long enough. They were pastel colored and matched the swaddle of blankets in her arms.

I didn’t speak much, but I could follow the conversation. It went something like this:

How’s nursing going?

Oh, I’m not doing that. The doctor says that formula is better for him because of his colic.

How was the birth?

I was programmed (the Spanish way of referring to c-sections) because the doctor said that was better for the baby and everything is healing fine.

Is he sleeping ok?

Of course. He is so precious. He has a little cold, but the doctor is so far away. I’m giving him some tea to help with that.

I felt my “first world self” bristle a little. No choice in birthing options? Getting the wrong information from doctors? Not even trying to nurse? But I tried to remember that I really wasn’t in the first world. I was in Mexico, rural Mexico, which is somewhere between the developed and the developing world. This baby had bigger problems than the fact that he was drinking chamomile tea at three weeks old.

I looked over at the dresser and saw a little plaque that read “Mi casa es su casa.” That’s the Mexican way of saying “make yourself at home” or literally translated as, My house is your house. It’s sweet and welcoming and one of my favorite sayings.

In that moment I read it more literally—like this is your house. And the irony and dishonesty of it struck me. Of course, this wasn’t really my house. I’d be leaving soon, and I’d go back to my house, which has multiple beds and medicine and running water and corners that meet and a heater to cut the night chill.

I was hoping to connect as equals—both new moms trading war stories. But we weren’t equals. Our houses, our lives, weren’t the same at all. As I looked around I knew, deeply, profoundly that our babies were not given an equal start in life. And smiling and pretending that really, it’s all the same, we’re all the same, was making my stomach drop and turn over in a way that made me think I might be sick.

I heard Berenice start to signal our exit.

Can we do anything for you before we go?

No, no we’re fine.

I thought, Where would I start? What can I do? I mentioned, in halting Spanish, that we were moving soon and that I had some extra cloth diapers that my son had grown out of. A whole bag full. Maybe she would be able to use them?

She graciously said, yes, yes, of course, she would like them if I was sure my son didn’t need them anymore. I felt a little foolish like maybe I was pushing them on her. Back home, cloth diapers were the domain of natural, hippie moms–moms who read too much about the chemicals in bleached Pampers. Heck, I was doing it because I liked it. But they are, objectively, a pain the butt.

But then, I realized, to this fifteen-year-old living far from town in a dirt floor cabin and a water spigot out back, cloth diapers were a gift. Look around, how and where is she getting disposable diapers?

I inherited many of my cloth diapers from my cousin, who inherited them from a friend. Who knows where she got them? I imagined us there, a long line of new moms with babies who pooped, linking arms with this new mom. Connected. Connected by the fact that all babies poop and all moms do the best we can with the babies and the lives we have. Connected by the same down-in-the-bones love we have for babies–hers and mine and yours. Connected by the subtle and small ways we find to support one another because every mom, everywhere, needs a hand. Undoubtedly, life is crueler to some more than others, but mothers show up and help each other raise these babies.

We began to leave, and the 15-year-old stood up to give us a peek at the sleeping baby. He was tiny, with a shock of dark hair and the features of a newborn–a baby who hasn’t quite filled into his little face.

He’s beautiful, I told her. I felt a welling of emotion as I bent over to give her hug. She was 15 and I was 32, but we were both moms.

Before we left, the old woman thanked us for coming and told us to come again. Mi casa es su casa, she said and I felt something like guilt and confusion and relief, but also a hope that comes from taking tentative steps onto common ground.

 

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Linda <![CDATA[Family à la Mode]]> http://segullah.org/?p=26402 2017-08-11T19:47:00Z 2017-08-11T11:00:46Z A year or so ago I sent a vial of my saliva off to Ancestry DNA. The results were not  surprising since I’ve been tracking my genealogy for decades now. I’m Scandinavian (most specifically southeastern Sweden) where my mother’s parents came from in the late 1800’s. I’m also German/European where my father’s progenitors came from...

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A year or so ago I sent a vial of my saliva off to Ancestry DNA. The results were not  surprising since I’ve been tracking my genealogy for decades now. I’m Scandinavian (most specifically southeastern Sweden) where my mother’s parents came from in the late 1800’s. I’m also German/European where my father’s progenitors came from in the mid-1800s. There are a few other odd bits in there, presumably just to keep me engaged in family history research.

Besides my pie-chart, Ancestry DNA also lists other spit contributors who share some of my DNA.

Last week I visited my sister Susan in the Chicago area. I browsed through my DNA profile and sent a message to one of the “possible cousins” who shares some of our strands. To my surprise and delight, I got a quick reply. Clara (not her real name) turns out to share direct ties to our great-grandfather and great-grandmother! And even more surprising and joyful, she lives just a half hour from my sister’s place! We made a date to meet.

Susan and I met Clara and her husband at Baker’s Square and connected over sandwiches and pie. Susan – older than I am by 6 years – had clear childhood memories of Clara’s mother (now deceased). Susan and Clara reminisced about names and places they both recalled. My only memory of that branch of the family is going to the funeral of one of Clara’s uncles, Johnny, who was killed in Vietnam in 1967 as a teenage soldier, just a few years older than I was at the time, and long before Clara was born.

Johnny was one of twins. His twin brother Jimmy is still alive and one of his sons has twin daughters. Clara herself has a twin sister. My sister Susan has twins. What are the odds?

Clara is very involved with music, singing since she was a child. She took cello lessons in college. Susan was an exceptional cellist well into her college years, too. Clara sings with an international barbershop singing group and has the knack for that style’s unique and complex harmonies. My daughter Christina is a talented singer and, back in her high school and college days, devised intricate harmonies with the acapella groups she sang with or formed. If I recall correctly, at least one of those songs was in nine-part harmony.

Some of Clara’s kin on our common lines were gifted artists. I lean that way myself.

Clara wondered whether Susan and I would have blue eyes like her grandmother.  Apparently, we do. Clara’s eyes are a gorgeous green – like our other sister Holly’s and like my daughter Christina’s.

Clara is not like Susan or I – nor any of our known relatives – in at least one distinct way. She is a brilliant astrophysicist! Until a few years ago when her health took a downturn, she was literally a rocket scientist with top secret projects and had highest level security clearances. My husband has some serious scientists among his kin, but Clara doesn’t share any DNA with him.

Clara is also a woman of gumption, determination, good humor, good will and compassion. She is an articulate and detailed storyteller and regaled us over our BLTs and desserts with her fascinating life experiences.

I am SO glad we connected. Family research doesn’t have to be just back and back in time. Sideways is great, too.

I wonder if in the next life we’ll have ample chances over heavenly sandwiches and pie to sit down with all the others in our expansive webs of connection. Imagine how fascinated and thrilled we’ll be at the commonalities and distinctiveness.

I know I had a little taste of heaven meeting Clara!

What cool connections have you made with distant kinfolk? Any surprises?

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Sandra http://thekitchennatural.com <![CDATA[What if the Church Library was a Real Library?]]> http://segullah.org/?p=26386 2017-08-09T02:56:29Z 2017-08-08T09:07:30Z I accepted a new calling in the last week. It came as a surprise and not a surprise at all. A surprise because I’m well below the unstated age restriction to become a librarian in my ward, but that’s where I’m headed. The senior sisters that dole out the chalk and flannel board figures behind...

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I accepted a new calling in the last week. It came as a surprise and not a surprise at all.

A surprise because I’m well below the unstated age restriction to become a librarian in my ward, but that’s where I’m headed. The senior sisters that dole out the chalk and flannel board figures behind the counter in my ward are tops. They’re pithy and sweet and will get you copies in a jiffy. But I won’t be sharing their distributing authority with the supplies, that task may be below my privileges. I’ve been charged with something else entirely, a new task: stocking the shelves of the library and curating the wall art of the building.

Not a surprise because what I’ve been doing this in my own home library for ages now. I’ve tried to be a lending library to anyone to inquire and return my books. The goal for the church library, as I’ve been instructed, is to fill the shelves with books, both print and digital, that people want to check out and read, resources beyond the standard works, manuals, and gospel art kits.  Think resources beyond the standard works, manuals, and gospel art kits, not just for lesson prep, but personal study. And then devise a way to maintain the supply by instituting a digital check out system (there are apps for this like Book Buddy).

This task of selecting and collecting books and art plays into so many of the loves and expertise I’ve grown in my time at Segullah. I can’t wait to start.

It will be a challenge to limit all the wish list books and art to the budget I’ll have. There are so many fantastic books that speak to the needs and wants of LDS people, things that you can’t get in a library in my neck of the woods. Maybe if you live in Utah you can find these sorts of books at your local library, but where I am (and I assume a lot of you reading) you are left to shell out for your own copies or borrow from a friend.

After speaking with the Bishop and Sunday School President, who created this role and shared their vision of it with me, I’m excited to collect books that offer information and diversity of voices that aren’t in the standard library resources. It’s entirely true that the shelves and walls of our buildings (mine and probably yours too) are filled with manuals, books, and art almost exclusively written by older Caucasian men. Even when they are good men and hold revered callings and have penned many inspired works, they can’t offer every needful thing to everyone. I love being able to read something from another perspective, it helps me learn.

So, I’m taking on the lines in D&C as my mantra,

118 And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.

I’ll be looking for “the best books:” scholarship on church history (particularly essay topics on LDS.org), resources for faith questions, sex from a healthy LDS perspective, and books that highlight the voices of women and a variety of ethnicities and experience.

Just a few of the books I’d love to see (several have already been nodded yes to.)

      

      

I don’t want to forget about the kids either- I’d love to stock a mini bookmobile wagon to wheel over for families with young children to check out a few before sacrament meeting and return at the end. Even if I can’t make a tiny cart, I can put them in the library.

    

I’m excited at the possibilities for books, and instituting a barcode scanning app to check out and track the books, so I can keep those good books tracked and returned for all to enjoy.

With all the forward motion to recognize and elevate diversity in Mormon art, I’m so delighted to introduce some new artists and hopefully a few new styles in my home church building.

As far as I know, this idea is novel and my calling is unique; I love it. I may not have time, budget, and final say to get all of my wants on the library shelves and wall, but I’m feeling called to give it a go. And I’m thrilled to hang out with the continuing library staff, they’re pretty awesome ladies. I can’t wait to set them up with a scanner to expand their library resources and authority. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll let have a turn passing out the chalk and crayons even though I’m still underage.

If you had a church library stocked with church-minded books you’d want to check out- what would you like to see? I’d love some suggestions.

   

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