Brother Liu rang the door chime and asked me to deliver the Mother’s Day sermon in church in two weeks. Feeling honored, but also intimidated and overwhelmed, I set to researching my Church’s teachings about motherhood, and searching my memory for vivid images of meaningful times spent with my mother. A good place to begin was this simple statement of Church doctrine: “Just as we have a Father in Heaven, we have a Mother in Heaven.” A prominent Church member and businesswoman, Sister Dew, explains that Eve mothered all of mankind when she made the most courageous decision any woman has ever made, to leave the Garden of Eden and to begin the mortality both of Earth and of humanity. Eve modeled “the characteristics with which women have been endowed: heroic faith, a keen sensitivity to the Spirit, an abhorrence of evil, and complete selflessness.” Never married, and without children of her own, she asserts what I welcome as divine truth: as daughters of our Heavenly Father, and as daughters of Eve, all women are mothers. Every time a woman builds the faith or reinforces the nobility of a young woman or man, every time a woman loves or leads anyone even one small step along the path, that woman is true to her endowment and calling and inherent nature as a mother, declaring, Are we not all mothers? I can easily use the word “endowment” to refer to my own mother’s presence in my life. In our weekly family gatherings, Mom taught us children new Church primary songs by writing words and symbols on posterboard. Every morning before school I found a bowl of steaming whole wheat cereal, made from wheat she ground, and creamed with powdered milk she mixed in the blender. On Sunday afternoons, Mom read us wonderful books—like The Secret Garden—while we munched on small quantities of M&Ms. She took us to free concerts and musicals in the park. She was my church choir director for nine of my years in New Jersey. Mom took me to pick wild asparagus, and taught me to make blackberry jam, sealing the jars with hot paraffin wax poured on top. She gave me swimming lessons and supported me in Scouting. She nursed me through endless ear infections, cheered for me when I succeeded, believed in me when I failed, and buttressed me when I mourned. And she drove me all over the Garden State to give me enriching musical, educational, cultural, and nature opportunities. Coming from a rural Utah town, Mom took on the world when she and Dad moved to New York City, living in Greenwich Village, and then to São Paulo, Brazil, for post-graduate school and work, soon settling in New Jersey for a 35-year career. And she relished it all. I have heard endearing stories about children who burst through the door after school, calling, “Mom—I’m home!” At almost 60 years old, I again get to experience the privilege of walking through the front door each day after work and calling out, “Hi Mom. I’m home.” I think the word “mother” is synonymous with “home.” My 20-minute sermon ended with the blessing of living Apostle Holland upon all mothers, “Be peaceful. Believe in God and in yourself. You are doing better than you think you are. Thank you. Thank you for giving birth, for shaping souls, for forming character, and for demonstrating the pure love of Christ.” How relieved yet invigorated I felt after finishing the talk! And Mom seemed happy with my tribute to her on Mother’s Day.
(Pictured above: Mom’s Mother’s Day bouquet.)