by Anna Arnett
I belong to a book club in El Dorado ward. We’ve only been at it for a few months, but covered quite a broad variety: Jane Austen’s "Pride and Prejudice", Nancy Young’s "These Is My Words", Alexander McCall Smith’s "The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency", M. M. Kaye’s "The Far Pavilions", and now Beverly Campbell’s "Eve and the Choice Made in Eden", the first that's non-fiction. Each one very different, but highly enjoyable. I'd recommend them to all.
We meet again tomorrow evening, and I’m so far only slightly over half way through, but this month’s choice is very thought provoking. Sister Campbell started off to write a book about current challenges for women. She ended up writing only about Eve, the Mother of All Living. When we understand Eve, she decided, everything else falls into place. If we really know Eve, we see women for their amazing value, gallantly fulfilling the measure of their creation.
Perhaps it really is the misconceptions about Eve that have excused men in many cultures who negate the value of women. It was, after all, Eve who brought all the sorrow and troubles to man. She thought only of herself, it is claimed, and ruined it for everyone else. And her daughters are no better. In many cultures, girl babies are considered worthless, while a son is prized. Women and girls are often considered merely chatel.
But Eve was not the villain. We know her as the most valiant of women, who grasped the vision of mortality--of childbearing--of unlimited agency--of the atonement to come. She dared, but Adam also saw and agreed. She left an amazing legacy to her daughtrs--us!
For the most part, I found myself merely nodding. That’s the way I’ve always pictured it. There are, so far, a few details I’d not considered, but the main picture is about what I’d accepted from my earliest feelings and later ponderings.
My parents did things together. My dad honored and esteemed my mother, just as she did him. My husband’s parents, likewise, were equal partners, and I married a man who has always treated me with consideration and sometimes, I think, even a little awe. He’s wonderful.
I also realize that all families—even those who have been enlightened—do not place women equally with men. Sometimes we’re put on pedestals far higher, but far too often men dominate—or at least try to--with from sad to disastrous results.
Back in the seventies, when women’s rights were hotly debated, I pondered a lot about it. I was still taking evening classes, and discussed it with classmates. All those I personally talked with who were avidly pushing women’ rights had been abused or molested by a man. I could hardly blame them. I have no idea how I would act if I had to walk in the shoes and accept the abuse I often hear about, but have never experienced. So, amid my pondering, I wrote a poem I call “Just a Woman. I feel like sharing it now.
JUST A WOMAN
"I'm just a woman," cried a lonely one,
"Can I compete with men in this world of strife?
What have I to offer? How can I obtain the height
My soul longs for when frustration fills my life?”
To her the spirit whispereth, "My daughter, lift your head,
For you are very precious unto me.
The rosebush was not meant to be a tree—nor you a man—
But each has a special place, now and throughout eternity.”
To be a woman is a special gift,
For women have a softening effect on men.
'Tis they inspire culture, bring refinement to the land,
And help make the earth a garden once again.
'Twas just a woman who in Eden's bliss,
Still hungered after knowledge and a better life.
So when the tempter promised her there was no other way,
She partook the fruit, thus introducing strife.
Was Eve forever afterward regretful of her choice?
No! She rejoiced in overcoming trials.
And ever since, her gallant daughters, filled with courage strong,
Pass through sorrows armed with fortitude—and Mona Lisa smiles!
When God made women, 'twas a special gift.
Though sometimes they seem frivolous, bejeweled and curled,
Yet they‘re the wives and mothers upon whom mankind depends,
For those who rear the children lead the world.
'Twas just a woman who in Bethlehem,
Once held a tiny baby to her loving breast;
While angels sang with glory, shepherds bowed, and Magi came,
And through Mary's Son the whole wide world was blessed.
Was Mary's life made easy after having given birth?
Was rearing Christ the Lord a simple chore?
Were Mary's thoughts and attitudes reflected in her Son?
Did she feel a deep responsibility through trials sore?
To be a mother is a special gift.
It’s challenging, and frightening, delightful, too,
Especially in a partnership where love and trust abound,
And I’m glad that I’m a woman—aren’t you?
~Anna Laurene Arnett