Guest Post: That Which is Beautiful and Sacred #CopingWithCOVID19

By Anonymous

Before COVID-19, I was becoming increasingly uncomfortable watching 11-year-olds pass the sacrament knowing that I could not. Every Sunday this wound grew bigger and bigger. And then the world shut down.

My ministering brother is a member of the patriarchy. I mean the most patriarchal of the patriarchy, and I love him. He offered me the sacrament the first Sunday off of church. Sometimes I am not the most kind when setting boundaries. I panicked. How could I say that I wanted a break from the sacrament kindly? I lied instead. I told him I was out of town. But then I realized that my actions were outside of my integrity and I wrote back, ”Sorry for lying. I am in town, but taking the sacrament is too painful for me right now. I need a break. I did not know how to say that in a kind way. I am learning.” That text was beautiful. It was sacred.

Weeks passed. The virus raged. I decided to bless my own sacrament. I knelt down with my homemade bread and water. I fumbled through the prayers as my German shepherd tried to eat the bread. I kept messing up because I had not had the privilege of reading those prayers aloud every Sunday and maybe because a large animal was crawling on me. It was beautiful. It was sacred.

A few weeks into blessing my own sacrament I felt as though something was missing. I missed the communal aspect of the sacrament. So I called a Mormon feminist friend and we blessed the sacrament together over Zoom. Two pieces of homemade bread, water, thousands of miles and two mountain ranges between us. It was beautiful. It was sacred.

A little later I realized as a child raised in an alcoholic home and as a single woman, my whole life has been spent taking care of myself or others. I needed to feel taken care of, even if it were in a small way. I called my ministering brother. He knelt over homemade bread and Dixie cups of water as we all stood six feet away with our masks on and blessed the sacrament. It was beautiful. It was sacred.

A week later my ministering brother offered the sacrament again. We could not coordinate schedules. I said, “No big deal, I will bless it myself.” He condemned my choice and told me I was not living in my integrity holding a temple recommend and blessing the sacrament myself. He knows integrity is my compass. Integrity no matter what the consequences. So I told my bishop that I had been blessing the sacrament and it was beautiful. It was sacred. He could make whatever choice he wanted with my temple recommend as it was his prerogative, but I would be blessing the sacrament.

I got a response immediately. It was paternalistic. It was mansplainy. He told me that it was my choice as to whether I held a temple recommendation or not, but he would advise against it. My disobedience would pollute the temple. He was confused as to how a woman who blessed her own sacrament could give so much to the community and the ward. How a woman who blessed the sacrament would even want to go to the temple. I realized he was having a hard time categorizing me. I have a hard time with that too sometimes. Sometimes I do things and worry they make me a bad member of the church or a bad feminist. But then I realized categories and rules are arbitrary and they do not exist. Just as each different experience blessing the sacrament was sacred and beautiful, each of those parts of myself are equally sacred and beautiful.

I emailed him back. Since it was my choice whether to hold a temple recommend or not, I would keep it. I answer to a loving God, not him. I had a clear conscience. I said I will continue to pay tithing, obey the Word of Wisdom, serve like crazy because I need that healing, pray several times a day, read my scriptures, show up for this community, try and stop swearing and then fail a million times, show up for church every damn Sunday, attend the temple … and bless my own sacrament, and advocate for full equality for women, and question prophets. And each and every one of those things is sacred. Each one of those things is beautiful. My God is bigger than categories, such as good members of the church and bad.

Anonymous is a teacher, horseback rider, reader, sister, doctoral student and friend.

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9 Responses

  1. meri says:

    Will you start performing your own baptisms?

  2. Chiaroscuro says:

    Thank you for claiming your own authority and using it in a ritual important to you. I wish all women felt empowered to do so

  3. Allison says:

    Thank you for sharing this!

  4. Lizzy says:

    I bless my own sacrament also. Our daughters do, too, and so do my husband and sons. And it is beautiful and sacred. Every. Single. Week. But I also give healing and comfort blessings with my husband and other times when the Lord tells me it’s ok. But…that is because I view priesthood differently–as relationship instead of authority given by men. My temple recommend lapsed last month and I don’t feel any need to renew it. I have found that God is anywhere I invite Father and Mother to be. The temple is a symbol of a relationship we are supposed to go seek out on our own. We are the temple. I smile at your integrity. 😘 This LDS box that we place God in is stifling at best. Hope you find the wings God gave you, sister! 🦋

  5. M says:

    The cognitive dissonance of the patriarchy cannot reconcile a deep longing for God that leads you to act to bless the Sacrament with other actions that they have long promoted as bringing you closer to God, such as the temple. Because the patriarchy is always about power, never love.

  6. Em says:

    You’re brave in your integrity. I’m impressed you told him you lied. And all of your other acts of integrity too. I think one of the ways that patriarchy hurts us in the church is that it empowers men to believe they have the right to instruct women who have not sought their instruction. Having the priesthood in our church means one thing: You have a penis and you are at least eleven. There are no other qualifications — later we might say worthiness (it’s rare that a young man would be forbidden from passing the sacrament for hitting his sister or other inappropriate deeds). There’s no divinity school. There’s no special training. And yet these men felt they needed to instruct you about what you should and shouldn’t do as part of your private devotions within your own home. I wonder where the line is between reading scripture aloud (the sacrament prayers) and suddenly becoming some kind of temple pollutant.

    Incidentally I’m hearing your Bishop channeling Lady Catherine de Burgh “Are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted?! It shall not be borne.” We saw how that turned out Lady Catherine.

  7. Mary says:

    I’m just sad. I’m thinking about all the men of African descent who had to wait until, as President Hinckley said, the members of the Church were changed enough to be ready for this blessing to be extended. Still, I knew white men who left the Church over that proclamation. I don’t enjoy waiting on anything or anyone, even the Lord (let’s be honest!) But I can wait and grow and learn and hope.
    I’m a convert of 53 years now.

  8. Lorraine Jeffery says:

    I hear you and don’t condemn.

  9. It’s so interesting (and sad) how the exact same ordinance is considered sacred when performed by a man and wicked when performed by a woman.

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