This is a complicated message, one that was not comfortable for me, as an infertile woman, to have to address. Nonetheless, I will attempt at finding some method of reasoning that allows me to share this message with honesty.
First, the good stuff. The really, really, good stuff. The formal message contains this note at the start:
This is the first in a series of Visiting Teaching Messages featuring aspects of the mission of the Saviour
Oh! This made my heart sing! To me, to focus on Christ is to focus on love, non-judgement and the perfect balm that only He offers to solve all of my ills, woes and darkness.
Creator. No, it is not a bad thing. Looking at Christ as a creator is never, ever a bad thing. But the only female included in this message is Mary, the mother of Christ, which reminded me of the miraculous inception granted to a perfectly devout woman. Partnered with the last section, wherein the over-used term “nurture” smacked me with the Mormon feminine-assigned characteristic of mothering, I felt at a loss. Having been branded with the Scarlett Letter “S” for single well past typical Mormon marriage age, and post-marriage with the Scarlett Letter “I” for infertility, I have long lived on the outskirts of acceptable, typical Mormon female status.
Quickly, my mind raced to the THAT video. It is the Dieter F. Uchdorft “Mormon Messages” video based off of his General Conference talk in October 2008. I was in the throes of yet another round of IVF the first time I saw the video. It was forwarded by a friend, inviting me to have a “creative” day. I was angry when I saw it. Images of babies splashed across the screen, with a verbalisation about the spirit body as a “masterpiece.” My body, nor my spirit felt like a masterpiece. And if I was so innately creative, why wasn’t my body creating a baby in normal fashion? I emailed my friend. I knew she was not intending to be hurtful or malicious. She sent it for love. I knew this. And I wanted so much to feel– something not dark. So, I told her that I was uncomfortable with the message—and asked her what she found inspirational. She, completely unaware of our fertility woes, wrote that she liked the idea that she, as a daughter of God, inherited the characteristics of a Divine Creator, for she was in the process of creating workshops in her employment. In her work, she felt inspired, creative and industrious in a spiritual capacity. It restored her, and made her thrive.
That perspective healed me, and swung me around to a new light. I was in the process of creating life. IVF is not typical; but it is creation. After all, if we all sculpted excactly the same– say, Michelangelo, then it wouldn’t really be creative, it would just… be a statue.
And then. I thought of my favourite sculptor, and my favourite sculpture.
The reason I love Rodin is because his work is raw and unpolished, and retaining toolmarks. I don’t recall the first time I saw it, but I was struck by it: two right hands together, titled The Cathedral. I was single at the time, but saw within the two right hands a symbolism of the temple. It was romantic and passionate to me, thinking of the joining of two right hands in the shape of a cathedral in its raw form.
But for the first time, after reading this month’s message and its associated scriptures, I saw something else in The Cathedral… I saw my hand and the hand of Christ—together, facing, creating. Together, creating, healing and being healed. And like my friend had directed, I understood that I did inherit something of divine creation; and when I do my best to mirror my imperfect hand against the marks of the nail in Christ’s hand, I see that He shares in my pain, my disappointment… and yet, my love and my passion, and my ability to create.
Moses 1:39 For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
I do not feign to be an artist or even a “nurturer,” but that is not the limitation of creativity. Creation is everything from preparing microwave dinners to designing educational workshops to quadratic equations to the covers and pages of the Exponentii magazine. And with Christ as our Muse, we can appreciate and create without limit…. in any manner or form. He creates, He heals, He restores– and we can share in that feeling.
For me, creativity is restoration.
“You are now placed in a situation where you can act according to those sympathies which God has planted in your bosoms,” said the Prophet Joseph Smith. “If you live up to these principles how great and glorious!—if you live up to your privilege, the angels cannot be restrained from being your associates.”
Restoration by Elsie Parton Relief Society Magazine 1941 Third Prize Winner The once green breast of the outraged earth Lay bare and black and scarred. The stiff, gaunt trees stripped of leaf and branch Stood naked, worn and hard. A gaping hole from a bursting shell Was strewn with magled dead, And structures fell ‘neath the batt’ring guns Where smouldering waste was spread. The crimson dawn lit the eastern sky When the day was born anew. A single bloom curnved its petals bright To cup the morning dew. A small bird hopped on a broken spar To chirp its roundelay; An infant crawled from a stiff cold arm And toddled on its way.
What is creativity to you? How can you feel the divine creation of Christ in your life and in the lives of the women you visit teach?