I didn’t actually write this essay. It was written by my friend, Tracey Snoyer, in an effort to capture the essence of what happened when some women got together for a few days of spiritual exploration in the tree-feathered foothills of Mt. Hood. I was part of the sacred circle. I invite you into the circle today, to seek with us greater light and knowledge about our Heavenly Mother.
Heavenly Mother’s Job
It started in a circle of women. Of bright, accomplished women, who held feminism as either an ideology or a manifestation. They were all empowered women: artists and business leaders and writers and thinkers. And all of them, spiritual savants in their own way. Two mothers and two never-mothers spending their days in inquiry and devotion with good food and long walks and quiet meditation. It took until the fifth day for the insight to grow deep enough for the question to be asked, and, in a spiral of light and magic, answered.
It began, as many inquiries of Heavenly Mother do, with an inquiry on Eve. Some believed that Eve knew exactly what she was doing when she took that fruit. Some believed she understood the plan in a way that inspired her to move the plan forward in the face of Adam’s solid obedience that, while beautiful, also brought stasis to the human family. It was Eve, some said, that had the insight and foresight and inspiration to make the choice that would start humanity. This idea seems to be gaining popularity: Eve as risk-taker, as knowing intercessor. Continue reading Heavenly Mother’s Job→
When I lived in the city I was accustomed to the kaleidoscope of smashed glass caught in the cracks and rough patches of sidewalk and road. Beautiful, but terrifying trash. I’ve stepped on enough broken drinking glass shards to know to keep my feet covered when I stepped outside. The day I spied a man running down my Baltimore street without shoes I looked once to see him, again in unbelief, once more in disbelief and again because why would anyone in their right mind run down these glass glittered streets without proper footwear? But up the street he ran anyway, not stepping gingerly, but in stride and purpose. Open and free. I just thought he and anyone else reckless enough to attempt such a task was crazy. Then I met one. Continue reading Open→
Today’s post comes from Debbie Haslam, who serves as a member of Segullah’s advertizing team.
For weeks prior to the special Stake meeting rumors were flying rampant in our stake. Everyone had their own idea of where the new boundary lines would be drawn and which ward they would be assigned. I spent a lot of time during those weeks leading up to the meeting speculating myself. How was this change going to affect my children? How would my husband react? How was I going to feel if things changed dramatically for us? Would I lose my calling as Young Women’s President? I even had a luncheon with several other women from my ward the week prior to the announcement. We each had our own thoughts and concerns about the changes. We shared opinions and frustrations over Mexican food and sodas. Continue reading Changing Boundaries, Changing Hearts→
I have recently been called to be the Visiting Teaching Coordinator in our ward. This is the third time I’ve had this calling – the second time in my current ward and a previous stint in another ward. I personally love visiting teaching and have a testimony of it, even though the execution of it is sometimes less than ideal. We are all imperfect people trying to administer a divine mandate: to mourn with those that mourn, to comfort those who stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God.
In theory, visiting teaching is a beautiful idea: Neighborhoods full of people who look out for each other and attend to each other’s needs. In some parts of the country, this is the case – I have many friends whose ward IS the block on which they live. How easy would it be to run across the street and do your visiting teaching? In many other areas of the country and around the world (i.e., my ward), the ward boundaries are far-flung and can encompass dozens, if not hundreds of square miles. It’s a lot harder to run a casserole to someone who lives on the other side of town or farther away. Regardless of where you live, you have been called to be a visiting teacher, so let’s talk about some practical ways that it can be done. The ideal visit, or as I call it, “The Traditional,” doesn’t always work – there are women who work outside the home, who work at home, who homeschool their kids, who are going to school themselves, or any other myriad of circumstances that make “The Traditional” less than practical. The following is a list of strategies that my companion and I have used to contact the sisters on our visiting teaching route. In my opinion any of these contacts “count” as a visit. What’s most important is that you meet the needs of the sisters on your route on their terms, not yours.
* The Traditional: Scheduled visit with a lesson. Sit down together in the visit-ee’s home and have a nice chat and a spiritual message often accompanied by treats and a crafty handout.
* The Crisis: Bringing over a meal, taking care of children, helping clean, helping move, etc.
* The Afternoon (or Morning) Off: Offer to watch a visit-ee’s children so she can get out of the house and have some time alone.
* The Group Activity: Invite everyone on your list out for breakfast, lunch, dinner, a movie, a pedicure, or even a play date.
* The Drive-By: Call everyone on your list and tell them you will be coming over with a treat and a message within a certain time frame. Have a quick chat and hug at the door, and then everyone gets on with their busy lives.
* The Divide and Conquer: Split visit-ees between you and your companion and do any of the above.
* The Help a Sister Out: Your companion is having her own crisis, having a baby, or is out of town, so you handle the visiting teaching for her for the month.
* The Grab At Church: You know that the only time that you, your companion, and your visit-ee will be remotely able to see each other is at church, so you sit in the foyer during Sunday School together and have a visit. Treat optional.
* The Phone Call: Has all the benefits of a nice chat and a spiritual message, and you can get your laundry folded at the same time. (Does anyone else dust and fold laundry while they’re on the phone?)
* The Letter: Sending a letter with the monthly message. Cutesy or funny card is optional.
* The Email: Corollary to “The Letter” – catch up with someone via email or even Facebook.
* The Text: Only to be used in desperate times. Only counts if the visit-ee responds back!
The most important strategy is the one that works best for the sister being visited. Sometimes she might need a shoulder to cry on or a dinner and sometimes she might need a quick check-in. Being able to meet the needs of the sisters on your route takes truly knowing them and listening to the Spirit.
What are some strategies you have used to visit the sisters on your route?
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.