Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Work of God

(Painting by Karen Woods, 02)

I love my father. He’s a good man.

One of my most favorite memories with him took place during a windstorm. I was about 13 years old. The media called it one of the worst storms of the decade.

We went to church on Sunday, but there was no power, just dark hallways lit by dim emergency lights. Hardly anyone was there. As members trickled into the dark chapel the bishopric announced church was canceled and that they needed able-bodied men and young men to help with disaster relief. They were instructed to go home and change, get their shovels and chainsaws, and report to designated areas.

My father, having no sons, took me and my older sister home to change. I remember complaining in the car about how my sister and I, technically, weren’t required to go, but he insisted that were we equally capable of using a shovel.

We drove on the side of the road to avoid the flooded highway. There was mud and debris all around the shoreline of the swollen river as we crossed the bridge. There was a huge pine tree uprooted lying on its side in the river. Homes were damaged and people were suffering. The raining had finally stopped but there was a lot of work to be done.

We shoveled. I remember shoveling knee deep in mud until my back and hands hurt. I wore my dad’s yellow leather work gloves that were drastically oversized compared to my small hands, but I was still grateful I had them. I knew my sister and I couldn’t physically do all that my father did. His loads always seemed twice as big as ours, but I knew that my service was seen equally to God as we shoveled side-by-side.

There were many people working together, mostly men, but that didn’t matter. We were a part of something far greater. We transcended our gender, age, positions, titles, callings, and differences to become equal human beings shoveling mud.

It was beautiful. It was the work of God.

Today, there is still work to be done. We have many strong, intelligent, capable, sincere, and worthy women, yet our gender excludes us from the power and authority to serve equally with men.

I am told my desire to serve like my father is unrighteous and improper. I am told to raise my sons with an earnest desire to righteously exercise the Priesthood and then in the same breath tell my daughter that those desires for her are blasphemy.

It’s disheartening to put so much faith into a religion that puts so little faith in me.

I hold on to that day of shoveling mud with my father, because it gives me hope. I am grateful he gave me a shovel. I imagine the beauty of that single day could be outshone by the glorious vista of all God’s children working together, with equal authority, as partners, without inhibition, and with complete compassion and immersive love of humanity.

Perhaps I’m too optimistic or imaginative, but I choose to continue to stand by my husband while he shovels mud until my church sees fit to hand me a shovel, too.

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Published at Feminist Mormon Housewives on Monday, May 18, 2015