Monday, April 25, 2011

For This, I Am Grateful


The Monument to Women Memorial Garden, a park with thirteen bronze statues depicting women in their various roles and financed by the Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has always moved me. This tribute honoring women was dedicated at the Nauvoo temple in 1978, the year my only daughter was born, and I was enchanted from the start with both the poses and the feelings they inspired.

Apparently, the statues inspired S. Dilworth Young as well, because he installed copies of them at the Los Angeles temple and wrote an original poem for each one, inscribed on a plaque at the base. It was while attending the LA temple that I first saw the statues, and I was particularly taken with the one below.


Clearly, the woman portrayed here is fashioning a masterpiece of her own design. I'm not sure what the artist (Dennis Smith) intended, but I have always seen this particular bronze as a representation of the fact that each one of us becomes the artist of her own life, creating the woman she wants to become. Every choice we make, every thought we think leaves its mark on us, and the end result can and should be beautiful.

Saturday, following the baptism of a really neat young man, my husband floated the idea that we should invite all the young adults in his ward to Easter dinner. Many of them, living far from home and family, had no place to spend the day...so he wanted to make them welcome. For some reason, I was feeling tired and irritable, and I'm sorry to say that I didn't immediately agree to his plan. The thought of cooking truckloads of ham and funeral potatoes just didn't appeal to me, and I had selfishly imagined a quieter day with my family and the ward missionaries. Usually my husband defers to my wishes on matters like these, but he was particularly persistent. After much discussion, not all of it uplifting (on my part), I grudgingly went to the grocery store that evening and purchased 4 hams, the makings for 5 batches of funeral potatoes, 4 watermelons, a flat of strawberries, and enough cake and ice cream to sink a ship. I'm ashamed to confess that I spent the rest of the evening muttering about the prospect of preparing and serving my purchases.

Early Sunday morning, I woke up and began the process. Before leaving for church, I had cut all the fruit and cloved every ham. At the end of a stirring Easter meeting, where the young people we'd invited to dinner uplifted my soul and touched my heart with talks about the Savior and his selfless sacrifice (successfully reminding me that cooking a big meal amounts to very little sacrifice at all), I returned home in a much happier frame of mind. After putting the potato casseroles together, half-cooking the vegetables so they'd be easy to get on at the last minute, and getting the tables ready, I was ready to rumble.

Needless to say, we had a wonderful day with family AND friends, enriched by the smiles and spirits of the amazing young men and women in my husband's singles ward. Had we missed the opportunity to have them in our home, our Easter would have been much the poorer, and so would my spirit. Because I was "tired," I nearly deprived myself of a day that ended up nurturing me far more than it did my guests. In fact, this one has to go down in the Anderson annals as one of the best Easters ever. (And yes, I DID end my sugar fast!)

Like the woman featured in Dennis Smith's bronze statue, every day I am sculpting the person I want to become. There are far too many moments when the chisel slips in my hand, but it is the sum total of carving (thankfully) that will inform the finished object. What's more, our Savior––the Master Sculptor––is coming to the rescue. He has promised, by His grace, to fill in all the scrapes and gouges my poor tool makes. If I am willing, He will make of me a masterpiece.

For this, I am ever grateful.

(I need all the help I can get!)

=)

29 comments:

Ames said...

To err is human and that is why we are here...to learn and grow in God's love. Loved your post and love you my friend!
What are funeral potatoes??? :)~Ames

Renegades said...

What neat pictures to share.

Momza said...

First, I love the music here. always do.
Second, your example is powerful. When we give of ourselves even at times when it is a sacrifice to do so, I believe those are the moments we become consecrated for good.
Thanks for sharing your experience so honestly. You could've said you hosted all of the YA's for easter dinner and made it seem like no big deal...but you didn't and that shows you're human-ness and extraordinary goodness.

Dixie Mom said...

When I first saw your pictures I thought maybe you had dashed off to Nauvoo...I was a little jealous. :)
I know many times I am stretched to do something I'd rather not do and many times I am more than exceptionally rewarded.
I think providing Easter for those who didn't have family nearby was the most wonderful gift. I know it means so much to them....looks like it meant a lot to you as well. :)

anitamombanita said...

I know. I know. Grumble grumble grumble. And then we realize that WE are the ones being blessed and we feel stupid for having grumbled...and grateful that we persevered and did whatever we grumbled about anyway. I do it all the time. I guess we all have work to do on that perfection thing, no?! ;)

Stacy Crawford said...

Hi Sue,
we are just starting a single focus in our branch. We have called a YSA advisor. What do you suggest to help those YA's feel good and nurtured and have the same fun they are used to having in YW/YM? I am curious how to best serve them.

Jocelyn Christensen said...

Oh I'm so glad you took in those poor singles!! I know...I was a single for a long time and always far from family. I love my "adopted" family so much even years later for the way that they served me and included me in their traditions and homes! Happy Easter...and great job, Sue! You are an angel!

Darlene said...

First of all, I just have to comment on your last post where so many of your blogger friends wished me a Happy Birthday! I know this has nothing to do with todays post, but just had to do it anyway, because I was so touched. Thanks all!

Okay, now for todays blog...Honestly Sue, I was so affected by your tying the shaping of our characters by the really difficult time you had fixing the dinner for so MANY people and as it turned out you didn't have that many leftovers either. To tell you the truth, I was a little (a lot) upset with Dave to think he would expect you to do a dinner for so many people on such short notice. Then I, too, started to reflect on his reasons and came to the conclusion that he was just being Dave, and since I love that man with my whole heart and soul I understood just why he did what he did. Then my reaction was that I just wished that I could have been there to help you. Somehow though, I knew you would manage it and I am sure that everyone was very grateful for what you did to make their Easter so very nice and enjoyable. It was fun also, to talk to you after and to realize how very much YOU enjoyed the day. You really are very organized, Sue, and goodness knows, you needed to be this time. I love what you both did and am so happy to know that you did indeed mould a little more to perfection that extremely wonderful character you have. WOMENS WORK CAN TRULY BE REWARDING. And thanks to to Dave who made it all possible. Love you both so much.....

Em said...

i love emotion provoking statues. wait, are all statues supposed to be?? well, i loved that last one. there are a few in tai pan that i have had to stop in front of and then talk myself out of b/c i knew if i pictured them in my garden much longer then my budget would be out the window. i love a good statue.

Brian Miller said...

every day i am sculpting who i am becoming...true that...and what a cool sculpture..thank you for sharing these...

Lisalulu said...

What a personal story, personal and human and it reminded me of the 10 virgins story! thank you, I don't think I act as giving. It's nice to have an example.

Grandma Honey said...

I love this post and I'll tell you why.
About 6 years ago my 3rd son was having to spend his first Thanksgiving at BYU by himself. He had just returned from his mission and didn't know lots of people yet...plus most of them had gone home or elsewhere for that long holiday weekend. I was worried about him as us mothers do when our kids are alone on holidays. I prayed that all would be well...and I even remember praying that some good would come of this experience. Well his bishop and his wife ended up inviting all those who were alone for Thanksgiving to their home. I remember crying while we said a prayer of thankfulness for this wonderful family. And it still affects me as the tears are back. So as I read your post today I thought of all the parents praying for their children and wanting them to have a nice Easter Sunday.
You and your family probably answered many prayers yesterday...ones you will never know about.

And it IS a lot of work making that much food!

Jenny said...

You are such a beautiful spirit, Miss Sue. It's not the grumbling the counts...ever...it's the fact that you did it anyway.

Amy said...

Oh Sue, this brought tears to my eyes. We are constantly creating ourselves and it is important to try to keep a steady hand. Funny how the things we dread doing can sometimes be the best thing for us, isn't it? I am glad you had such a fulfilling Easter and that you were edified. Beautiful.

Kristin said...

This post really reached out and connected with me - I have been there and done that (ALL of that) during my husbands turn as Singles ward bishop. My feelings were reflected by you almost exactly, so many times!

I have never been to the memorial garden for women in Nauvoo and have always wanted to experience it. Each of my four children have been there and expressed how touched they were and how much they appreciated the mother they had in their lives after their visits. (What a treasure for me!) So I've always wanted to see it.

Dennis Smith is from our little town here! I've had an opportunity to hear him speak upon occasion, and we have a beautiful park here with many sculptures he has been involved with. We have some family ties some with of the sculptures he has done over the years - so I've always felt a little bond there :)

Kristin

karen said...

I've experienced something like this many many times. And to think we would miss out on such a rich experience! I wasn't feeling very Easter-y either. I, too, was cranky and tired. LaMar was 2 states away and I was achey, tired, and feeling sorry for myself. But once I got going, it was smooth and everything turned out nicely. I didn't do nearly as much as you did, but I was glad I went to the effort - I came close to not doing it. I'm glad it turned out well - those YSAs must love you to death! It means so much to have somewhere nice to go on a holiday when you're away from family. You'll probably never know how much you touched the ones who needed it most. Kudos to you and Dave!

Judie said...

I am so glad that I am getting to know you more and more every week. You are a gift.

Karen Mortensen said...

I love your interpataion(?) of the statute. I love the way you look at things.
I am also glad that the Easter dinner worked out. Things usually go that way when you think of others.

yaya said...

Many times I question the prodings of my hubby..then go and do whatever he thinks is best and the outcomes are always good. I'm glad you were able to serve those young people. I often worried about my son when he was on his mission in Taiwan..they don't celebrate Christian holidays and many times don't serve meals to the Missionaries. I know he was missing home during those times. Sometimes I've been neglectful of our own YSA here and the Missionaries too. You've prompted me to be better at serving them and making them feel at home. I know you knocked your self out cooking and I also know how hard and tiring that is. You are a good example!

Annette Lyon said...

I've never seen those statues before. They're beautiful--and this is a beautiful post. I love the idea of being able to fashion the person I want to be.

Connie said...

Beautifully said. I need to take this to heart because I think in my "old age" I'm getting lazier and don't want to have huge projects.
I'm glad you had a good Easter.

Lesa said...

I love the pictures.

Sounds like everything turned out really nice. (I would have complained for a minute or two also)

Ames said...

Thanks for the recipe link on the Funeral Potatoes. I think I'll try and make them if I can cut the batch in half. It's just me and the hubs most of the time.~Ames

Lisa Loo said...

I would LOVE to see those statues up close and in person!

Thanx for sharing your honest Easter journey--it helps me be that much stronger the next time it happens to me because I know I am not alone and I can and want to overcome.

As Sistas in Zion said...

We've never seen that sculpture before, but we love the thought that every woman can sculpt herself into the woman she is meant to be and wants to become. Women truly are one of Father in Heaven's greatest masterpieces.

Cherie said...

I think that sounds fantastic and I am glad it turned out that way too. I think I may have felt a bit like you did at first, alot of work, but reading your post I can surely imagine the benefits and the love you felt in your home that day!!

Caroline of Salsa Pie said...

Wow, Sue. Tears streaming down my cheeks as I write this. So true and thank you for the reminder.
I haven't had time to read all of my favorite blogs lately because things have been a little stressful here with the children sick (and I am too!) and when the house is unorganized and nobody feels well, it's easy to see all of our glaring flaws. I needed the reminder today that we are all a work in progress and our Master Sculptor sure knows what He's doing!
I always benefit from your words, Sue and your wisdom.
Sending love your way.

Mormon Women: Who We Are said...

Love this post. Thanks, Sue!

Farmer's Wyfe said...

Loved this. Oh, I know the feeling, oh so well, and wish I'd give in to doing better also. That's a lot of food you prepared!! Sounds like a perfect day!!

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