It is Time for Mormon Women to Shine

You know what I love? History. I love reading it, researching it, listening to documentaries and history podcasts and so on. I especially love Mormon women’s history. As well as being a source for me to meditate upon, and apply to my life (“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”- George Santayana), history is sometimes a way for me to escape from the angst of today.

There is so much angst today. The world is in the midst of a pandemic where one needs only to glance at any media source to be inundated with opposing political views, racism, blaming, boycotts, angry rivalling voices, and overall duress.

In this confusion, I have had friends, but Mormon and not, “take a break” from all media, including email as remedy to their state of mental health which steadily declined as a result of the media. I confess to being one of those “break” people.

In my temporary retreat, I read poetry and history while crocheting and quilting with bright coloured materials to lift my mood. Weaving and cutting soft pinks and peacock blues, it came to me that we are in a global war against COVID19. Thus, I sought refuge in reading war-time stories of countries pulling together through “victory gardens” and sharing wheat stores with those in need—not by hoarding toilet paper. Before and during the First World War, Relief Societies worked directly with the Red Cross to organize nursing and nurses’ aids classes, as well as sewing lessons. They did this to be a positive influence on the communities where these women lived, and united to sing from the new Relief Society Song Book, Lucy A. R. Clark’s “New Freedom Song”:

 

We come, we come in mighty throngs

To do the Christian’s part:

The hungry feed, the naked clothe,

Bind up the broken heart.

Women of Covenant, 199

It was in this that I realised: This is the perfect time for Mormon women to shine. Today. Here. Now.

We have been taught to have food storage. Now we get to share it! It was a relief for me to have enough flour so that my routine of baking two loaves of bread, and giving one away could continue. Not only that, being able to do this helped me to continue to communicate with my neighbours which in turn aided my mental health.

And I sew. I learned to sew as a teen because I was too poor to buy my own flower-print church dresses. Plus, I always liked loud-print pants.

Right now, I sew masks.

We all know that masks protect from the spread of COVID19. So before school went back for my children, I contacted the headmaster to find is they needed certain colour masks to match their school uniforms. He responded that it did not matter—he was all about protecting the children. So I made him a mask. And he wore a matching tie on the first day of school, demonstrating the government guidelines and school recommendations for wearing a mask. My kids were thrilled—and as I sewed, I smiled and felt in tune with the Relief Society sisters of a century ago.

World War I had a weighty impact on women’s suffrage because women played such a powerful part on the home front. The sacrifice and work of women to keep their countries financially stable as well as providing assistance, support and care for soldiers did not go unnoticed. It was just after the end of the war in 1920 that white American women were able to vote for the first time in a presidential election.

Maybe that break from media made me sappy. I am certainly aware of those who oppose wearing masks and claim it is an infringement of their rights. But I am relief society woman. The sisters before me taught me better than to be selfish. They taught me that when we work together, we are successful. They taught me to share my food storage. They taught me to care and to heal to the best of my ability. They taught me to sew and to share that talent.

It is our time to shine, sisters.

#sewthemask

#wearthemask

Spunky

Spunky lives in Queensland, Australia. She loves travel and aims to visit as many church branches and wards in the world as possible.

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8 Responses

  1. Alys's Wonderland says:

    I am also someone who finds strength and guidance from the past. And I, like you, am also feeling sappy. That snippet of poem/song brought me to tears this morning. I live in Lucy Augusta Rice Clark’s home in Farmington, Utah and am her most devoted fan. Besides being a wonderful poet, she served the Woman Suffrage Association as Davis County’s President and Utah’s Vice President, traveled to the Chicago World’s Fair to represent Utah, bore 11 children, held paying jobs as postmistress and regional sales rep of the Buddington Dress Cutting Machine, AND was the first woman to vote in a National Republican Convention in 1908! We Mormon women have a long history of boss b*tches to inspire us today!

    • spunky says:

      You are right!! I think the women of the church 100 years ago were also better accepted than progressive Mormon women today. Breaking the mould is never easy! Thank you for commenting and teaching me about Lucy!!! I’m going to look up more info on her! xx

  2. EmilyCC says:

    this is such a timely reminder. Thank you for reminding us of the valuable skills, we, as Mormon folx, have to navigate us through this time.

  3. Em says:

    I feel kind of bleak because I feel like we’re in such stark contrast to the unity and sacrifice of some past generations. But then I also remember that that is a narrative on social media. It isn’t what I’m seeing on my cul de sac. I know all my neighbors much better now that the thing I do for hours every day is sit on a chair in my cul de sac watching my kids ride bikes around and around and around.

    And I’ve saved a life. I never thought I’d be able to say that. But I have. Probably many lives — because I stayed home. Because I’ve had the parenting year from hell.

    I was also able to share from my storage. I had a large hoard of hand sanitizer in my storage because I’m a deeply anxious person. But as soon as there were shortages I realized I needed to let go of the stash. I put some on the communal neighborhood mailbox with a sign offering anyone who needed it, and I donated others to local doctors’ offices and medical facilities with shortages.

    I love history AND you Spunky.

    • spunky says:

      I love you, Em. I love that you shared your stores– I am positive you have saved lives by staying home! I commiserate with the parenting year from hell– it has been a roller coaster ride I did not prepare for, and it seems like the safety bar is a bit tight. I’m wearing it to be safe, but I am looking forward to the ride being over, hopefully sans vomit.

      I agree that Mormon women of yore expressed greater unity and sacrifice. I personally think that the more politicized the church has become, the more divided her members have also become. Prop 8 is a brilliant example. If we privately voted and did the work we felt drawn to in community politics, and left the church to be… ya know… a church, I think that unity and tolerance would have reigned. I remember years ago that it seemed to be a regular thing to “remind” people in tax season to be honest. Yet today, it seems to me that Mormon white collar crime is stealthily spreading like a disease to a point where it is acceptable. I still have yet to hear a general conference talk on the evils of white collar crime, whereas I feel like I hear anti-gay marriage talks at least once a year. So today, the church is more interested in my bedroom than my character– compared to the early church days where character was extremely important.

      In many ways, today’s church feels more political than the church of a century ago. I miss the church in the days when the state of Utah voted to repeal prohibition because that was best for the people. *sigh* (and I know that is a trite summary on Utah’s alcohol history)

      Stay magical, Em.

  4. Heather says:

    I love this!

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