Guest Post: Legacy

By Brittany Long Olsen

Last year, I moved from Utah to England, and it struck me that some of my ancestors made the reverse trip about 175 years ago. Looking at a statue in Liverpool made to commemorate those early saints, I thought about how I might have grown up here in England instead of America had my ancestors not joined the Mormon church. Their choices changed lives for generations, and they gave up so much to be surrounded by a religious community they loved. If they knew how much I’m currently struggling in their beloved religious community, would they be ashamed at the state of my faith? Or would they be proud that I’m seriously weighing these spiritual matters and seeking direction for my life? If I only knew their faith when they crossed the Atlantic and sought out the saints in the Rocky Mountains, would I find what I’m looking for?

Transcription of above image:
The first time I visit Liverpool, I head for the docks.

The city is famous for football and The Beatles, but what I want to see is a statue called “Legacy” overlooking the Mersey River.

It commemorates about 50,000 people who sailed from England to join the Mormons in America. Some of my ancestors were among them.

 

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I’ve read about Leonora Cannon, an orphan at 4 years old after her mother died crossing the Atlantic and her father died in Nauvoo. She and her two older sisters might have stood on this very dock where I’m standing, waiting to board a ship for the New World just a few years after their family joined the Mormon church.

I can imagine their pain as they left their spiritual and physical home and made the pilgrimage from Liverpool to the Rocky Mountains.

I made the reverse journey from Utah to England three months ago, albeit in a plane instead of a heaving steamship.

Transcription of above image:
More acutely than ever in my life, I feel stranded, separated from my eternal Mother and Father.

Thinking about Leonora, and Ann, and Mary Alice, I can feel the pain of being an orphan girl far from home.

I’m hoping that by coming here, I can feel their faith too.

 

Brittany Long Olsen is a cartoonist, ex-pat, and dog mom.

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3 Responses

  1. Libby says:

    Brittany, this is beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing your story and your art.

  2. EmilyCC says:

    I remember staying at my in-laws’ adobe house in Ephraim that was built for their great-great grandfather and his four wives (he immigrated from Denmark). I couldn’t help but think, “With all they sacrificed, what would they think of my struggles. At first, I felt such shame. Now, I like to think that they can appreciate my struggles because they, too, had really difficult decisions to make that impact their families and friendships.

    Your art is just lovely, too.

  3. DT says:

    Your art made me feel like I was there and exactly how you felt, more than a photo would. Thank you for sharing!

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