Tuesday, April 06, 2004

No, ma'am, that's not Relief Society 

by Kristine
Last night I took dinner to a friend who is undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. I wish I could say that it was entirely my idea, but it was actually part of a massive service project organized by two lesbian moms of a child in my daughter's kindergarten class. (Apparently they didn't get the memo on the gay agenda!) Rachel's two boys have been driven to and from school every day, taken care of while she's at doctor's appointments and at the hospital for chemo, and fed yummy dinners brought by people from school 3 nights a week for the last two months. Rachel's mom has come to stay with them now, so the childcare issues are eased, but there was serious talk about raising enough money to hire a nanny for her, and I'm sure people really would have done it, if it had been needed. The dinner calendar is full for the next two months, and last week Rachel sent around a little note asking people to please not stop by with flowers for her and gifts for the boys anymore because their house is overflowing. All this among neo-hippie-pagan-Kerry-nah-more-like-KUCINICH-voting-gay-friendly-no-nukes-heathen Waldorf school parents.

I'm embarrassed to say that one of my first responses has been surprise. Somewhere, way deep down where the unexamined assumptions live, I really somehow believed that Mormons are the only ones who really understand service, who show up with casseroles at the drop of a hat, who build those tight-knit communities that drive us crazy and keep us sane.

Besides wishing that I'd been pregnant and on bedrest HERE instead of in surface-friendly but not terrifically helpful Mormon wards, I'm wondering how different some of the gloom-and-doom conference talks might be if more Mormons (especially Utah Mormons in the hierarchy) had real live experience with other-than-Mormon communities? How much of my generally optimistic outlook about the state of the world, the devotion of most families to their children, the goodness that is all around comes from always having lived in "the mission field," and, of necessity, having close friends who are not Mormon? If, even with that experience, I fall prey to provincial notions about why and how Mormons are better than everyone else, how should we--how should I--do better about reaching out to our neighbors and embracing what is virtuous, lovely, praiseworthy and of good report wherever we find it?
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