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.