by Rene Allen and Mary Woods
For my last blog, I introduced Jennifer Leigh from our Tucson ANWA chapter, who wrote about creativity in her work as a kindergarten teacher. This week, I would like to introduce Mary Woods, a truly accomplished woman with many gifts and talents. She is a trained musician and vocalist, a teacher, writer, and now, her most recent passion is quilting. Her husband is Rex Woods, Professor of Music at the University of Arizona and a bishop. They have three sons. Mary is Canadian and grew up Catholic. She converted to the church in her 20s. Her mother died when she was in her early teens. What follows is an excerpt from a longer piece she had been working on, which was included in her sacrament meeting talk on Easter. - Rene
I began this talk with a quote from a poem which was set to music, and I would now like to recite the words to an aria from Handel's Messiah which I also love to sing. The text is taken from passages in the Book of Job in the Old Testament and from the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians.
"I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. And though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God. For now is Christ risen from the dead. The first fruits of them that sleep."
The last time I visited my Father in Canada, I knew I probably was not going to see him again in this life. He was 93 years old and becoming more feeble and grouchy with each passing day. Dad had never had any religious faith and even ridiculed my mother for her strong beliefs. Just before I left to catch my plane back to Arizona, I sat down beside him and said, "Daddy, I just want you to know that I believe in life after death. I believe in heaven. I believe that you will see family who have already passed on , even Ole." Ole was my dad's 16 year-old brother and best friend who drowned when my Dad was 14.
With a hopeful, loving smile, he said "That's nice, dear."
A couple of months later, my brother called from Canada to say that Dad had just died. I got the distinct impression that my mother, who had died almost 40 years ago, was indeed there to greet him. This was confirmed in a small way when I looked over the African violets I was trying to grow. My mom always had beautiful specimens but mine rarely bloomed. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw my plant, now covered with delicate purple flowers. It was as if she was saying, "Don't worry, Mary. He got here safely and we'll get him started on those missionary discussions tonight."
Two months ago, my family and I went to the temple. Rex was baptized, confirmed and endowed for my father. Then with my two older sons as witnesses and my mother-in-law standing in for my mother, my parents were sealed and I was sealed to them.
How glorious is this gospel. How perfect and just is His plan, that we are entitled to bounteous blessings both in this life and the next as we claim the victory and the joy accomplished by Jesus Christ on the first Easter.