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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Advantages!

Last Sunday, I had the privilege of speaking at the peace awards ceremony sponsored by the Corinth congregation of Community of Christ. I read the essays of the three students who received the awards, and listened to their thank you speeches. All three of the young women were confident and spoke well as they discussed their hopes and dreams for the future: university, career, diplomatic service, possibilities. Their poise and confidence showed through. In that context, I couldn’t help but wonder where life will take them.

I also thought about the advantages they have. I do not mean to suggest that life has always been easy for them; I do not know that, but some of their blessings are obvious. Each of them has a supportive family, good nutrition, excellent health care, and opportunities for education.

Exactly 100 years ago in 1910, my grandmother was a similarly bright eyed and capable young woman. (Some readers might remember her as Jennie Vance.) In 1910, she did not have the advantages of higher education. In fact, I do not actually know how far she got in school, because whenever I would ask her, she would get a rather quizzical look and say something about the “4th book” in reading. While I do not know what grade that would have been, she did learn to read, which she loved to do.

As one of the older children in a family of ten, when times were hard and food was not plentiful as was often the case, she would be pulled out of school to go keep house for some neighbour or relative that was having a baby or perhaps had a health crisis. There, for months at a time she would wash the clothes, clean the house, and cook the meals, just like an adult. While this was clearly child labor, these neighbours appeared to think they were doing her and her family a favour. While I cannot be certain, I do not know that she was ever paid for her work.

Finally, somewhere around the age of 15 or 16 (she would not tell me for sure), she married a boy she went to school with, and they began a life of their own on a farm not far from where they were raised. Life was not easy. They worked hard and endured many challenges, but they made the most of whatever blessings came their way.

As I reflect on the shining faces and bright prospects of the three award recipients in Corinth, I am reminded of the wonderful Dr. Seuss story, Oh, The Places You'll Go! At the same time, I cannot but wonder where similar advantages might have taken my grandmother, and thousands of bright young women and men of her generation.

The point of this reminiscing is this. Let's never take our advantages for granted. They are a remarkable blessing that countless others in our world still do not enjoy. Let's make the most of them, and seek to use them to make this world a better place, both for us and for others. May God bless our sincerest efforts.

Posted by Carman

2 comments:

  1. I have, in my living room, a beautiful pastel picture of MY grandma at just about the same age and in the same era you're reminiscing about. We know very little about the circumstances of this picture. It is obviously of fine quality, done by a real artist, legend says, in Detroit.

    What took this seventeen or eighteen year old girl from rural Ontario to the big city and brought her into such contact is lost to us. I do know she was very smart and very capable. I can only imagine her story.

    She did marry and raise a family and play a huge part in running the farm they had together. She was always an equal partner in making decisions. She was a leader in the congregation and in the larger church community. Somewhere in my boxes I have an article from the local newspaper about a Sunday School conference she organized--guest minister President Joseph Smith III.

    When I was studying the high priest temple school book I recall one of the questions: what high priest in your life has made the greatest impression on you? The first person to come to my mind was my grandma! Of course she was not and could not be ordained. But her "visionary leadership" was just so present in the life of our whole family and of the extended church family.

    She was a model for so very many people. Many people sought her advice and her opinions. My dad and my aunts and uncles and even folks in the congregation used to quote her, still do.

    So there's MY grandma story. Thanks for sharing yours Carman. Many of my advantages come from the life of this great woman.

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  2. Thanks Marion. There are many wonderful grandmother stories that could be shared, and we need to honour and value those. I am glad that "Advantages" has triggered some happy reflections for you.

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