READ LOCAL SUNDAY is your glimpse into the working minds and hearts of Utah’s literary writers. 15 Bytes regularly offers works-in-progress and/or recently published work by some of the state’s most celebrated and promising writers of fiction, poetry, literary nonfiction and memoir.
Today we feature the work of Layton author Mette Ivie Harrison, one of the best-known Mormon authors currently writing about Mormonism for a national audience. In the forward to her most recent book, The Book of Laman (Amazon Digital), a speculative, first-person account based on a character from The Book of Mormon, fellow Latter-day Saint and literary critic Michael Austin writes of Harrison that she “is not just one of the best-known Mormon writers today. She is also one of the best. Her Linda Wallheim [mystery] novels [The Bishop’s Wife, His Right Hand, For Time and All Eternities] are as well-crafted as they are intellectually satisfying. … Linda finds beauty and truth in the Church and in the magnificent, broken, wonderful, terrible, frightened, triumphant people who populate her ward. (That these people have an inordinately high murder rate among them is a requirement of the genre and not a commentary on the Gospel.)”
Today Mette offers an excerpt from a work in progress she calls Messages from the Goddess, which like most of the author’s latest works finds its inspiration in the Mormon faith, known for its patriarchal nature.
Of this project she writes,
I tried to pray to God as a woman. It didn’t work for me. Years of habit, I suppose. So instead, I began to imagine sitting with this female Goddess. Sometimes it was on a porch swing where we rocked together, my legs moving back and forth freely, our hands held together, as she spoke words of wisdom to me. Sometimes she embraced me and whispered urgently into my ear. Sometimes she put her hands on my heads and gave me a “blessing” in the traditional way that Mormon men who hold the priesthood now do—and which Mormon women once did for each other without any need for supervision from men.
I began to write down some of the impressions I had from these experiences, and then tried to collect them in a form that might benefit others. Here they are.
Messages from the Goddess
Today was a good day. But don’t forget that it wasn’t the parts of the day that you caused to happen that were the most important. The parts of the day that washed over you, uncalled for, undemanded, unexpected, those were the parts that are my gift to you. The sound of the wind was the sound of my song to you. The touch of a child’s hand was my reminder that you are loved. The taste of a cherry was sweet and sour, the taste of love itself. The feel of an ice cube down your back was the reminder that winter is not here, that it is still summer, and there is love all around you. See it and accept it while it is there for you.
There is no need to count, my beloved. There is no need to make lists and check off items. There is no need to measure yourself against anyone else, or against your own set of standards. You are enough. If you don’t get your list done today, you are enough. If you eat too much and you don’t do your workout, you are enough. If you make a mistake, you are enough. If you are not perfect, you are enough.
There is time enough. There is no need to hurry. You do not have to miss one moment. You do not have to close that book early. You don’t have to walk away from a conversation with a friend. There is no mound of laundry that matters enough for you to stop listening to a child laugh. You can tumble down the hill like you did as a child. You can do silly things, or do nothing at all. There is time enough for you to be who you are, and there is nothing else that matters.
Little one, I know you think you are broken. I know you think you have given all you have to give and that you are done, that you have no more left. But it is not true. You will rest for a while and then you will stand again and face the wind. I will stand with you when you are ready. For now, I will hold your hand and I will tell you that I do not need to stitch your wounds together. They are part of your soul and they are meant to be. I will show you my own wounds, the stretch marks of my belly, the cuts where I pulled you from glass, the burns where I ran into fire for you. These are well-earned wounds, but they are not the end of me and they will not be the end of you. Someday you will run a finger across these wounds and remember how much they hurt, though that hurt is gone, and you will be proud of how you survived this moment.
Mette Ivie Harrison is the author of The Bishop’s Wife mystery series (Soho Press) set in Utah and blogs for Huffington and Religious News Service on religion. She holds a PhD from Princeton University in Germanic Languages and Literatures, is an All-American triathlete, and has five children. She lives in Layton with her husband. The Book of Laman is her most recent book.