One Great Whole

By Kathyrn Lynard

I LICK THE ENVELOPE and press it shut, affix the stamp, and place it in the mailbox with a sigh of satisfaction. This is my fourth letter to Amy. I’ve been writing to her every week since she checked herself in to a substance-abuse rehabilitation program.

Amy, my neighbor’s live-in niece, first came to church a few months ago. She delighted me with her candid questions in gospel doctrine class. Her aunt explained that Amy was baptized as a child but raised outside of the Church. Her parents had recently passed away, and Amy was in a state of flux—living a troubled life, yet earnestly seeking truth. I was excited when the Relief Society president asked me to be her visiting teacher. But Amy entered rehab before we ever had a chance to visit face-to-face.

On a Sunday afternoon I sat down to write her a letter. We were little more than strangers—what could I write that would be meaningful to her, that would forge a bond between us? Feeling a bit lost, I began to write, choosing snapshots from the mess of experiences that make up my life. I described my family, my background, my conversion to the gospel. Knowing how candor can facilitate connection, I confided some of my private hopes and struggles, and shared some of my deepest beliefs. With eight pages filled, I put my pen down and read the letter. It was honest, sincere. But I was nervous, wondering what Amy would think of the letter, and of me.

Later that week my neighbor told me how much Amy appreciated the letter. Heartened, I spent the next Sunday afternoon writing another letter—and the next, another. In the process I made some remarkable discoveries. As I moved my pen across the paper, assembling pieces of what I’ve lived, I began to see patterns of meaning emerge from the jumbled landscape of my life—the different fragments combining to create divine order and purpose. And last week, when I received a letter from Amy describing her own experiences, I realized that I was adding to the ongoing design of her days, and she to mine.

This issue of Segullah is rich with similar discoveries regarding life and relationships. Patchwork: the word brings to mind scraps of cloth with different hues and shapes, textures and patterns, all stitched together to form a colorful, functional quilt. By drawing on an array of experiences and insights, the authors in this issue remind us that our lives are like quilts, formed from scraps of choice and circumstance. We see how we are shaped by moments, both ordinary and extraordinary. We realize that living is an act of creation.

From this issue we also learn the value of variety. The authors speak from a broad spectrum of personalities and perspectives. They show us that each woman’s story, each woman’s life, is a unique and valuable work. As Chieko Okazaki taught, “There’s not one right way to be a quilt as long as the pieces are stitched together firmly. There’s not just one right way to be a Mormon woman, either, as long as we are firmly grounded in faith in the Savior, make and keep covenants, live the commandments, and work together in charity.” These writings, as a collection, also show us how different women and different lives can fit together to form something more beautiful—a multicolored quilt created by the sharing of experiences. A warming, comforting quilt of sisterhood.

I shut the mailbox door, excited for Amy to receive my latest letter, grateful for the relationship that is forming between us. Next month she will graduate from her rehab program; we’re planning to meet face-to-face at last. In the meantime I will look forward to writing next Sunday’s letter, seeing colorful swatches of my life’s fabric emerge on the page—the raw material of self-knowledge, and of friendship. As I do so I will remember the women I met in the pages of this issue, and I will rejoice in the power and beauty of lives sewn together into one great whole.

Hope you enjoy this issue!

Kathryn Lynard Soper

Table of Contents:

Uppity Mormon Woman Forgets Her Place by Heidi Wessman Kneale

Imagination Catastrophe by Kellie Purcill

Crazy Quilt Existence by R. Angela Zecca

Honor in the Ordinary:  Teaching Honors Intensive Writing at BYU, Fall 2006 by Lisa R. Harris

Nursing Politics by Kylie Nielson Turley

Threads by DeAnn Campbell

Finding Myself on Google by Emily Milner

See Your Beauty, Feel Your Power by Angie W. Schultz

And Should We Die – All Is Well: Doctrines to Comfort Grieving Parents on the Mormon Trail by Patricia Rushton

A Conversation with JalShalley Lynch by Johanna Burchert Smith

Law of Harvest by Melody Newey

Be Still (a psalm) by Melody Newey

On the Eighth Day by Melody Newey

The Sparrow’s Defense by Andrea Stacy

To Martha and Her Fragrant Home by Melissa Dalton-Bradford

Sailing to Manti by Melissa Dalton-Bradford

What Abish Saw by Emily Milner

Fit for the Kingdom by Candace Melville

Holy Night by Candace Melville

Lost in Youth by Gail Howlick

To Be by Noelle Carter

About Kathyrn Lynard

(Founding Editor) is the author of the memoir The Year My Son and I Were Born (Globe Pequot Press, 2009) and the editor of four published anthologies. She contributes to Mormon forums from Meridian Magazine to Sunstone on a variety of topics including gender issues, disability, mental health, sexuality, family life, and spirituality.

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