May 8, 2007

Mary Greer's "Boxes"

My name is Mary Greer and I am a member of the Pima Poets and Penners. I am blog-sitting for Rene while she is off in Mexico working on her tan. She suggested that I might shock you all by sharing a journal entry called “Boxes”. Here it is.

We are all given decorated boxes containing invaluable gifts of indescribable beauty. We have myriads of gifts, some the same, some different, and we open them at different times, on our individual pacing charts, as we progress through life. Of course, some we don’t value, some we allow to tarnish or sit on a shelf in a dark basement collecting dust, and some we don’t open because we are afraid. Some, because, like waiting for Christmas, it isn’t time yet, we don’t open at all.

Some gifts, like motherhood, infinitely precious, are made of the highest grade diamond, and like those diamonds, for all of their beauty, have razor sharp edges that can slice us to the core. This gift box of motherhood is one of the most highly prized gifts in the church. Read The Family Proclamation. Men have the priesthood, women—motherhood. My whole purpose for being is to be a mother. My whole worth as a woman in Zion is…to be a mother.

I have prepared for that moment that I would have children for all of my life—11 children, 5 biological and 6 adopted. I’ve bought clothes and toys for my babies. I’ve collected books for my children. They will love this book; we will read that one together. I’ve studied and know all about effective discipline and child development. I’ve loved and treasured each nephew and niece, each new classroom of school children.

I’ve bled through every vacation—doesn’t matter how I calendar it. I’ve missed swimming in Lake Erie 3 times now, despite careful planning. I’ve missed weddings and missionary first endowments because of wearing temple white. I’ve suffered many things of many physicians because…some day I would be a mother.

Ain’t happenin’, Babe. This gift is not for me at this time. The two weeks before my surgery were a couple of the most heart wrenching in my life. I got rid of most of my books. I cleaned out my cedar chest and put all of my dreams together to give to DI. They took my treasures and just threw them into a dirty old bin. “Wait,” I wanted to yell. “These things are precious.” Too late. This gift is not for me to open now, not through birth, not even through adoption because children need to go to families where they can be sealed.

The surgery? Life is good. I should have done this when I was 16. Better yet 14 and I could have skipped that whole, humiliating band-trip-wearing-a-white-band-uniform fiasco.

And then there is the sex gift. Read Cosmo—it is the most important thing in life. Some people treasure it, some don’t—another sharp-edged crystalline gift, I guess. I’ve been reading a lot about it lately. Isn’t it incredible what the body does during sex, what changes occur to create an orgasm? Phenomenal. God created our bodies and so he wanted us to have sexual pleasure. Such intricate planning, all of those details!

But I can’t open it yet—not uncommitted sex, not a monogamous relationship. Nada.

There is the connectedness box, the belonging and being special to someone else, someone who can be my friend, with whom I can be emotionally and physically intimate.

Not now. All of the boxes that are the most highly prized in the church, which are supposed to be life’s greatest treasures. Not now.

There are boxes that I have that I can open, that I wouldn’t be able to open otherwise, gifts like a career, independence, education, working with children, being the “special aunt” for my nieces and nephews, gifts of family and friends, the gift of time to pursuit talents and interests, the gift of becoming more physically fit, gifts of time to study and meditate, to sit through Sacrament Meeting unmolested (by my own children), the gift of autonomy, the gift of the time to serve, gifts of the opportunities to strengthen my financial box, gifts of talents and humor, and laughter.

So maybe the whole thing about gifts isn’t the ones that we can’t open now, but the knowledge that we are all opening different boxes, and the fact that some boxes have to wait for now doesn’t diminish their beauty or promise. Like Christmas morning, we will get to them eventually.


  1. What a lovely, illuminating, wrenching posting. You have given me so much to think about, Mary. Thank you for such an honest essay.

  2. Mary, thank you for the beautiful posting. I needed it. I sometimes get so wrapped up with my own gift box that I don't stop to consider how I can make life a bit better for those with 'different boxes'.

    I listened yesterday to a rebroadcast of a talk given years ago by Marvin J. Ashton, where he spoke of crosses we have to bear. Some of them still surprise me. Like the cross of success; of failure; of adulation; of being ignored or unappreciated; of living where there are few who share your faith (and the church work load); of living where there are too many of the same; of poor health; of no health challenges; of waiting; of things happening too fast. I probably mised some of his and added some of mine. You'll find more.

    Christ tells us his yoke is easy and his burden is light when we willingly take them upon us, and serve how, when, and wherever we can.

    Milton said, "Who best bear his mild yoke, they serve him best."

    I'm reminded of a time when my sister commented on how sad she felt because one of our cousins had such a struggle with her health.
    "Why?" I asked. "Did it ruin her personality?"
    "Oh, no, she's absolutely wonderful."
    "Then isn't feeling sorry for what made her wonderful somewhat like saying, 'I'm so sad that she got so many Christmas presents'?"

    You're so right, Mary. Every gift is precious, even when it comes wrapped in sadness.


  3. Wow, Mary! Thank you for opening my eyes and my heart on this subject. Your words have given me a new perspective; one that I have been seeking as I try to serve and work with Sisters in my Ward. I love it that we can be instruments for the Lord as we share.


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