Are you my mother?

By Kelsi

mirror-1548409-639x852I didn’t know you were missing
For over twenty years.
Hushed whispers and defeaning silence
So loud I didn’t know I could hear it
Filled the spaces
Between God and I.

I never thought to ask
Never thought to look
Until I did
And now I cannot stop

I’ve been told
You’re locked away in a tower somewhere
For your own safety
From me.
But I think they are overestimating my strength
And underestimating yours.
I we couldn’t hurt you if I tried.
What hurts is separation
And distance
And the things I cannot remember.
So I am searching for you
High and low
If they locked you away in a far away tower
Like a princess in a fairytale
Then I will let you out.

I find glimpses

I look for you in Eve
From rib and dust
And breath and blood
Partaking of the forbidden fruit
Mothering us all

I search for you in Aphrodite, Venus, Pavarti
Beauty and love
Strength and power

I wonder about you when I read of Asherah and Wisdom in Proverbs and Psalms
Have you always been there?
Hidden in beautiful words.

I look for you in the Mary’s
From birth to death
Standing by

I search for you in Emma
Letting go of her children
Safely on this side of the Mississippi

I wonder about you as I watch my sisters
Struggling to be enough

I don’t know where you are
Or why you aren’t here
Or if you are already here.
But I continue to knock
At Father’s door
Pleading to find you
Once more.


About Kelsi:
1. The song “Yellow” by Coldplay was written about her.
2. She is a vampire.
3. Her favorite funny quote about reading is “I’m not convinced I know how to read, I just memorized a lot of words.”
4. She is obsessed with Regency/Victorian era literature, fashion from the 20’s, 40’s, and 50’s, and music from the 60’s, 80’s, and 00’s.
5. During her free time you might find her writing, cooking, eating, practicing yoga, meditating, listening to a podcast or music, knitting, or reading.  But most likely you’ll find her binge watching Netflix and following Taylor Swift’s twitter account.


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Walking with the boys

boy and mom 2About 4:00 pm I start watching my phone. I turn it face up and switch from silent to a low hum. Just in case. And again at 6:00 ish. I know their schedules. This is when my sons might call. One is walking home from school in the afternoon and the other from work at night. The windows of opportunity are from five to twenty minutes and if I miss them, it might be a few days before the walking and the inspiration align again.

I have no illusions where I fall in a twenty-something’s order of priorities. Evening plans have been texted, playlists played, messages called back and messages left. But when all other forms of entertainment have been exhausted, and if they are walking, they will call mom.

One tells me about his ideas. We discuss concepts like disruption and narrative world building and color and heteronormative bias. I ask questions and connect images and stretch beyond my day of spreadsheets and slides to keep up with his whirling, brilliant mind. One tells me about his day. We discuss strategies like workload management and incremental development and facilitation and change response. I ask questions and connect phrases and stretch beyond my day of egos and politics to marvel at his openness and ability to read and manage people. To both I agree that life is indeed hard, but also full of wonder, and that they are extraordinary and will make meaningful change in the world. Then they arrive somewhere and hang up.

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From the Backlist: General Conference October 2015

April and her mom and daughter at General Conference

April and her mom and daughter at General Conference

We had a good discussion about General Conference on our backlist. Many of us found inspiration for our own life journeys and were reassured by affirming messages from Church leaders about issues dear to our hearts, such as the status of women in the Church. We had questions about the continued lack of diversity among the Quorum of the Twelve; continued low representation of women among Conference speakers; and the return of the English-only format, ending a short-lived effort at language diversity.

April Young Bennett: President Uchtdorf said all three apostle vacancies will be filled today. I am hoping that the new people will reflect the ethnic, racial and geographic diversity of the Church and I am hoping that the new people will be empathetic to the concerns of women who would like greater inclusion in the Church. After seeing a female friend and mentor become a Community of Christ apostle just a few weeks ago, I also feel sad that I can’t even hope for a woman to be included among our own apostles.

President Uchtdorf reprised the theme that women should simplify their efforts, instead of overdoing unimportant things like handouts. Simplification is always good advice, but I can’t help but wonder if women overdo handouts because we aren’t given more meaningful projects within the Church. Couldn’t we channel that energy into more important efforts if we were better included in the governance of the Church?

I liked that Elder Ballard pointed out that church leaders are neither perfect nor infallible, but they are perfectly dedicated. I believe that is true. I hope this kind of dedication and humility makes it possible for them to consider suggestions from rank-and-file members of the Church. Lately, I have been told by multiple sources that the brethren are so inspired they don’t need women’s input. I hope the brethren themselves don’t feel that way.

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Poetry Sunday: My prayers must meet a brazen Heaven

This poem of Gerard Manley Hopkins beautifully expresses a worry that we all might feel at some point in our lives — that our prayers are ineffective or unable to meet God’s ears, barred by a brazen heaven. In this case brazen = brass, not bold.  The speaker hints at his/her shortcomings: the prayers being inadequate and any attempts to transcend the problem by calling for God’s help will automatically fail because the messages can’t get through to a brass heaven anyway!

Like Enos who “wrestled before God,” the speaker describes prayer as a battle, heaven as brass and him/herself as clay with too much iron to be malleable.  To some, this is uncharted territory. For others, a familiar journey. Let’s be kind to each other, wherever we are.

My Prayers must meet a Brazen Heaven — Gerard Manley Hopkins

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Dear Sister Sassy: Raising a Stripling Warrior


Sister Sassy is the Exponent’s resident Agony Aunt, answering all your pressing questions and dispensing wisdom from her pedestal.  To see other sterling examples of her guidance, see past posts here and here.

Dear Sister Sassy,

I’m expecting a boy, my first, in a few months. What advice do you have for raising a future priesthood holder?

                                                                         Mummy in Muncie

Dear Mummy,

May I be the first to congratulate you on fulfilling the measure of your creation? Finally you’re compensating for all your earthly failures. There are several important steps you can take right from the beginning to prepare your son to preside righteously.

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Re-envisioning my garments


CW: brief mention of a suicide attempt

A few months ago, my garments were causing me all sorts of angst. I hated the way they looked, the way they felt, and I felt like I was constantly tugging at them; I was always pulling here and tucking there. They never seemed to fit right, and they were also causing minor hygiene issues that I won’t go into. In addition to the practical discomforts, they also seemed to symbolize both the gender-imbalanced covenants in the temple, as well as how much the institutional church was involved in every minor detail in my life, both of which were a source of resentment to me. I already had other major sources of stress in my life, and my garments were quickly becoming the push that would send me over the edge. I would go to put them on every day and have a physical reaction: some days, I would get nauseated just thinking about them, and many days, I burst into tears as I got dressed. I hated them so much, and I couldn’t figure out how to reconcile my feelings towards my garments with the temple covenant I had made to wear them throughout my life (that I fully intended to keep). How could I make my garments meaningful instead of a source of anxiety?

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Bicycling in the Women’s Exponent

This week, I started reading Our Bodies, Our Bikes and found a quote from 1885 I hadn’t seen before, though it must be somewhat well-known as it’s quoted in the April 1985 Friend magazine in an article on the history of the bicycle.

The mere act of riding a bicycle is not in itself sinful and if it is the only means of reaching the church on a Sunday, it may be excusable.

This made me wonder if the bicycle was a hot topic in Mormonism, so I checked if it was mentioned in the original Women’s Exponent. And it was. Four times.

Chronologically, the first time “bicycle” was mentioned was in the June 15, 1892 issue, in an article written by someone with the initials “AWC.” She had gone on a trip to Heidelberg and wrote an article titled “A Day in Heidelberg” describing her experience. Her bicycle quote:

The city streets are narrow and crooked, the buildings tall and old and dark, and so shading the streets that it is positive relief to enter the principal promenade, the Anlage where the walks and drives are broader, and there among the border shrubs and trees are pretty rustic seats where one can watch the fashionable ladies ,the children with their nurses, the pretty girls with their staid chaperones, and the gaily attired students strolling, riding, bicycle riding.

The next time “bicycle” is mentioned is in the July 15, 1894 issue, in an article titled Saltair: A Famous Pleasure Resort about an “Old Folks Day” event held there. The editor states, “The Bicycle drill was a genuine amusement, and everybody enjoyed it immensely, judging from the vociferous applause.” I’m not sure what a “Bicycle Drill” consisted of. I’m guessing it’s some sort of race, but if anyone knows better, please share!

Also, that year, the “Miscellaneous” section of the September 1 issue, mentioned the bicycle. The “Miscellaneous” articles in each issue shared current news. This time the section included this:

Miss WILLARD and Miss Gordon returned to “The Eagle’s Nest” chalet, in the Catskill Mountains, July 27, where they will have two stenographers, and continue their work for the W. C. T. U. Miss Willard is to complete her “Handbook of History and Methods,” her booklet on “How I Learned the Bicycle, with reflections by the Way,” and, besides preparing her annual address, she will send out leaflets and articles for the press, and will write an editorial each week for the Union Signal, the organ of the White Ribbon movement.

Here, the Miss Willard is Frances Willard, a suffragist who founded the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (W. C. T. U., above), which was symbolized by a white ribbon. Her friend, secretary, and biographer, Anna Adams Gordon later became the president of the WCTU.

The final mention of the bicycle in the Women’s Exponent comes from Elsie Ada Faust’s address from the Alumni Banquet at the University of Utah. Her speech was published in the February 15, 1897 issue of the Women’s Exponent and was titled, “The New Woman.” In it, she outlined what “the New Woman” is like and addressing the concerns that women were becoming “too independent” with treasures such as,

Writers and speakers have been so busy separating the sexes and theoretically endowing each with separate elements of character that they have not had time to see (and the misunderstanding of this subject depends largely on the lack of seeing) that there is no difference, for if we look well we will find that all the vanities and faults supposed to be wholly feminine may be found just as often in man as in woman; and all the noble traits and attributes of which men have assumed a monopoly appear just as often in woman.

I really want to share the whole address, but you can find it in the link above. She uses the bicycle as a metaphor in the next section:

Woman with bicycle wearing bicycling costume, c1895., Library of Congress

Woman with bicycle wearing bicycling costume, c1895., Library of Congress

The new woman, or rather woman in her new light, does not look down on her fellow man as is commonly supposed; not at all, for she knows however short he may fall below the ideal, she may not do any better. And you will find, though bicycle mounted, with her voluminous sleeves set to the breezes, she will not take more than her half of the road. All she asks is equal start and privileges down the race of life.

Victorian opinions on bicycles varied greatly, but it seems that Victorian Mormonism looked on bicycling positively. If you are interested in a great book on the intersection of first wave feminism and advent of the bicycle, check out Wheels of Change.


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