The Lock







The Lock

Every evening I brush one damp curl from my baby’s forehead
And in its place leave a long, mama kiss

My sweet strawberry of a boy is heavy now–
All cheeks, tummy, and leg rolls
To me, though, he is still tiny

A little lump laying under white sheets and grey cotton blanket


His fingers rise up to his displaced curl
Thumb and forefinger searching for that precious peach lock

And then they twirl
Root to end…
Root to end…

A ritual performed since babehood, sucking at my breast


I watch, waiting for the next step in our little dance

Then it’s his turn to wait
For me to shake my head and whisper
‘Daddy is at church.’

He knows the routine by heart


My strawberry boy is still small enough that our family nights
Spent reciting our theme–

         Do all the Good you can
         In all the Ways you can
         To all the People you can

–Words meant to soothe the hearts of our children in the absence of their father–
Are a jumble of nonsense to him
Who needs a theme when you can have a daddy?

He sighs, debating whether to go on


The choreography is rote and he dutifully moves forward

The next step is mine
I’m supposed to say something about Jesus
But I stumble

I am tired–and hurt


Jesus listened and wept with the woman
Jesus comforted and healed the outcast

Telling my boy that his daddy has gone to church to help Jesus feels like a half truth
When the church his daddy serves builds idols on top of the pain
Of the lost sheep Jesus sought

‘I don’t know.’


It is all I have to give
A worthless, heartbroken utterance

But my strawberry boy nods
Perhaps grateful for an honest change in our routine
And turns to lay on his side, finger still twirling his favorite lock

Root to end…


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Ordination and Excommunication Sunday

Traducción española/Click for Spanish Translation

Ordination of Clare Julian Carbone

Ordination of Clare Julian Carbone

As the procession of women entered the church I swallowed a gasp. I knew I was attending the ordination of Clare Julian Carbone to the Roman Catholic priesthood (unsanctioned by the Vatican). I knew that those ordaining the first female Catholic priest in Salt Lake City would be women, previously ordained through a priesthood lineage they trace back to Jesus Christ. But I didn’t know. I only imagined what it would be like to have women presiding and officiating in ordination rite. The surprise of women dressed in robes of service and devotion, leading in a holy space overwhelmed me with joy.  Tears spilled out as I looked up at a stand and podium presided over by women (with a talented man playing the piano).  

I marveled at how different the scene before me was compared to the LDS Sacrament service I attended a few hours earlier. In my LDS ward I looked up at a stand full of men in suits with a woman leading the music and a woman at the organ. The LDS scene communicated to me that women are the accompaniment. Men are the main story. The opening hymn for my LDS Sacrament meeting was Hymn 59, Come O Thou King if Kings. I choked as I sang verse four:

Hail! Prince of life and peace!

Thrice  welcome to thy throne!

While all the chosen race

Their Lord and Savior own,

The heathen nations bow the knee,

And ev’ry tongue sounds praise to thee.

Was I the chosen race that owns their Lord and Savior? Or am I of the heathen nation bowing the knee? I felt keenly, “I do not belong here. This is a space for white men. Not me.” No more sound came out of me after the word “race.” I could not sing the words, “Heathen nation.”

In contrast, the sight of male and female congregants smiling in fellowship as we looked up to female presiding leaders astonished me with feelings of peace and well being. As I looked at female bodies, dressed in white robes that remind me of my temple clothes, I felt like I belonged. Then we sang an opening hymn:

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Claim your blessing!


Because children are baptized at age 8 rather than as infants, the Mormon version of a baby’s christening (blessing) is not considered a saving ordinance on their behalf. The LDS interpretation of this ritual is found in D&C 20:70:

“Every member of the church of Christ having children is to bring them unto the elders before the church, who are to lay their hands upon them in the name of Jesus Christ, and bless them in his name.”

We’ve all seen how it goes: dad, grandpa or some other worthy Melchizedek priesthood holder brings the baby to the front of the chapel, a few other men surround them in a circle, they collectively bounce the baby like she’s on a trampoline to keep her from fussing during the blessing, a deacon holds a microphone in front of the speaker’s mouth as the child is given “a name, by which she will be known on the records of the church and throughout her life,” followed by a brief blessing. Funny thing is, she’ll still get her name on the records of the church with or without a blessing, so it’s not even a required ritual for entrance on our attendance rolls.

And some of us wonder….”Where’s her mother?” We think that all too-often, don’t we? Oh, there she is! A few pews back, arms reverently folded as she strains to hear the man’s blessing on her child while other shrieks and squeaks punctuate the sacred silence, the same plight afforded to a father only when he is deemed “unworthy.”  Is she also unworthy?

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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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September Young Women Lesson: Why are we commanded to keep the Sabbath Day holy?

Based on the church-wide initiative to improve Sabbath Day observance, I’m guessing that this lesson will be very popular next month.  However, we have a tendency to turn the topic of “keeping the Sabbath Day holy” into a list of do’s and don’ts, and I think we need to be careful about how we teach this lesson, particularly keeping in mind that we will be teaching youth in many different countries and circumstances.  The “Come, Follow Me” lesson plan for the Young Women is found here.

Why do we have a Sabbath Day?

Read Genesis 2:2-3.  Why do the youth think it’s important that God rested on the seventh day?  What does this mean for us?  Possible answers could include that God has set apart one day for rest, so we should also set apart time to rest from our labors.  This could also tie into the idea of moderation in all things – even God, who is the Supreme Creator, took time off from creating to rest.

The Hebrew word for “Sabbath” is “shabbat,” which means “to cease.”  What kinds of things can we “cease” on the Sabbath Day to make it more meaningful in our own lives?

Read Mark 2:27.  “The Sabbath is for the man, not the man for the Sabbath.”  How is Sabbath for man (and women)?  Are we made to be in service to the Sabbath, or is the Sabbath made in service to us?  How is the Sabbath a gift in our lives?  It’s my personal opinion that God gave us the Sabbath both as an example and also as a gift.  It is God’s example that reminds us to rest from our labors and keep our lives moderate.  It is a gift in that we are given one day to really reorient our lives towards God: observing the Sabbath can be a ritual that we use to check in with ourselves, evaluate how our lives are lining up with the goals and standards that we set for ourselves, and then make adjustments as needed.  We are also given the Sacrament as part of this ritual – the Sacrament serves as a weekly reminder of the covenants that we’ve made so that we can remember the promises we’ve made and balance our lives accordingly.

How do we keep the Sabbath Day holy in our lives?

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A Tale of Two Churches

st. johns bellefonte  A few weeks ago, on Easter, I attended an Episcopalian church service with my boyfriend and his family. It was a very High service with lots of reciting, standing, kneeling, standing, and sitting. The priest sang almost all the prayers. The chapel was very ornate with high, decorative ceilings and stained glass windows. The altar at the front of the church was beautifully decorated with lilies and daffodils. The priest and deacons wore white and gold robes. There was a (I’m pretty sure) professional organist who played beautifully; the organ itself was set in one corner of the church. The building was probably 200 years old so it was a pipe organ, beautifully carved. When it was played you could feel the air vibrate. There was incense and candles.

It was basically the opposite of what Sunday services are like in my small YSA branch. We meet in a renovated post office on folding chairs. The only prayer that is the same every week is the blessing on the sacrament. Services are much more relaxed and much less liturgical. My branch president generally wears dark suits; they are nice suits, don’t get me wrong, but they are not embroidered with gold thread. I am the pianist (we don’t have an organ), and between you and me, I fake my way through most of the songs. We don’t even have a real piano; it is an electric keyboard.

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