Olea has decided 2013 is a year of discovery, both of the world around her (she is currently living in the south of France, her first time overseas) and the potential within her. She would describe herself as open-hearted and optimistic (she loves words starting with an o), and her best friend tried to convince her to use the word “wise”, but clearly that didn’t work.
I have always felt a special connection to the sisters in my life. I loved the Young Women’s program, and often it was the only place in my life that I felt I belonged. When I moved from Adelaide to Melbourne, at the end of high school, to join my family who’d been there all year, I was looking forward to joining Relief Society. I had visited during holidays, and spent time with the young women, but when I went to Relief Society, I felt accepted and wanted in a deeper way than I ever had before. In classes, I was encouraged to share my experiences and testimony, and my needs and opinions were considered when planning activities, though I was only 18 and new to the ward. Our ward was very small when I first arrived – it had just been split, and wasn’t much bigger than a branch – and over the course of 6 years, we moved to a new building (from our rented hall-plus-a-few-classrooms) and now we are worried around Stake Conference times in case of more splits.
My first activity, as part of the new Enrichment focus that encouraged small groups organised by sisters, was a book club. We met monthly in a sister’s home and read, among others, The Pilgrim’s Progress, Don Quixote, something by Charles Dickens that I have since removed from my memory, Love in the Time of Cholera, The Lovely Bones and My Sister’s Keeper. We discussed authors’ intentions, favourite characters and unexpected plot twists. We discussed our families and friends and personal experiences, we shared philosophical views and argued about ideas, sometimes even relating to the book we’d read, often until (and occasionally after) midnight. Continue reading
Allison Mitton received a BA in English language from Brigham Young University and an MA in publishing and writing from Emerson College in Boston. While in Boston, she developed a great love for poetry, printmaking, Salman Rushdie, and all things nautical. Though recently relocated to Seattle, Allison still harbors a not-so-secret desire to move to Rhode Island and set up a printmaking shop in a barn overlooking the sea. If so inclined, you can blog stalk her at amittonmonologue.blogspot.com.
Last Christmas, my mother gave each of her children a copy of Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place. She told us it was a book that meant a great deal to her, and that it contains a powerful message of hope and love and forgiveness. It was one of many books I received for Christmas that year, and when I returned home to Boston I added it to my ever-growing collection. Then I promptly forgot about it.
Soon after my return, I began to feel some anger toward one of my good friends. We had been close friends for a while, but a series of very minor events aggravated me. Though he never did anything intentionally hurtful, I felt like he sometimes took advantage of our friendship, and I resented him for it. Continue reading
Kelly Austin is the frazzled but happy mother of four. In her commitment to refuse to grow up, she has spent the entirety of her adult life on college campuses. She currently attempts to teach writing and literature to the oft sleepy and stressed students at Xavier University.
“Is there anything I can do to help?”
“Let me know if there’s anything I can do.”
They were phrases I had become accustomed to hearing. Mormons, I think, are trained well to ask such questions of each other. We had just learned that our third child, whom I was still carrying, had a rare and fatal chromosomal disorder. If Ani made it to full term, she would not live long. We were looking at minutes, maybe hours at most. There was nothing they could do.
Enter well-meaning family and friends, determined to do something, anything, to ease our pain, to soothe our grief. People wanted to know what they could do. Mormons are, after all, encouraged to be “anxiously engaged in a good cause.” The offers were often anxious. And always good. But I never had an adequate answer. I appreciated the offers. I knew they were sincere, from the heart. I just didn’t know how to respond. I was having a hard enough time navigating my own grief, my husband’s very different brand of grief and the grief of my young sons, then ten and five, to even know where to begin. Continue reading
Photo by muskva
As my husband and kids exit our minivan, I remain in my seat. I flip open my lipstick case and peer into the tiny mirror. Have I absent-mindedly brushed my hand against my mouth on the way to church? By adjusting the mirror, I also check to see if I have put on my Sunday-best visage. Like Prufrock, I found the “time/ to prepare a face to meet the faces that [I] meet.” I let out a deep sigh and scurry to catch up with my family. Walking down the hall to the chapel, I try to compose a stance for interacting with the women in my ward. Should I walk with my chin high, or should I stoop over? Over the last few months, I’ve had some odd encounters.
On the Sunday closest to the Relief Society birthday, I tried to sing “As Sisters in Zion” in sacrament meeting with twenty or so others. I started to cry because I did not feel as though I could achieve the ideal expressed in the lyrics. To hide my tear-strewn face from the congregation, I stepped behind the sister singing next to me. As I struggled to stifle my sobs, another sister standing in the row behind me placed her hand on my shoulder. Her soft-yet-firm touch conveyed her love and concern for me. When the Relief Society choir finished, everyone moved out of place quickly. I never put that hand with a face. Not knowing who reached out to comfort me, I vowed to respond with warmth to every sister at church.