Colleen allowed me to tag along on her Visiting Teaching route (or “root” as they pronounce it in England) as she said good-bye to the sisters she had tenderly ministered to for over a year; leaving in their hands a token of her love: some little gift, usually an item destined for a charity shop, but which suddenly had great meaning because of the personal story Colleen would attach to it. I considered it my gift to have witnessed Colleen in action this way, but as we pulled into to the train station, my dear friend had one more delivery to make.
“When you came to England from the states, Mona -” she said - “I know you were expecting a very different experience. Things have not turned out the way you and your loved ones back home thought they would. You believed the day had finally come when you could indulge yourself, but instead your days are taken up meeting the needs of dozens of people who were strangers to you until recently. You cry yourself to sleep for them and wonder how you can give any more than you do.”
Disarmed, but swallowed up in her love, all I could do was cry. Colleen was a warm blast of sun, illuminating and healing at the same time.
“In Seminary last week,” she continued, “we learned about the Kirtland Temple. We talked about the sacrifices the Saints made to build it; how the women gave their treasured china to be smashed to smithereens so that the stucco on the temple exterior would literally glisten.”
I nodded thoughtfully, well acquainted with the story.
“The kids were interested,” she smiled, “when I produced a cup of my own bone china. But boy were they surprised when I also brought out a hammer!” Colleen laughed. “I coaxed each one of them, but they all refused to break the cup. ‘Okay,’ I said, ‘I’ll have to do it myself.’ And when I did--when I smashed the cup to pieces--they just sat there in shock.”
I was incredulous too: I have longed for a bone-china tea set since childhood. “You broke it?!”
“Oh yes,” she affirmed, “and I saved the pieces in the cup’s original box. Now, I wondered, what shall I do with this broken china?”
She pulled out a small blue box and rattled the contents.
“That’s when I thought of you, Mona; of your dreams in pieces for the sake of something bigger; the dust of your dreams sparkling in the lives of your brothers and sisters in England.”
That blue box sat by my bed until the shippers tried to pack it up. I rescued it just in time, from what – I couldn’t say. I just knew the broken cup couldn’t leave.
It took two days of musing and prayer for the reason to catch up with the decision, but I finally got it.
Colleen's gift would be my gift to the new Relief Society President.
Mona (in the red coat) muses every Sunday at Mona's Gospel Musings and preaches romance in marriage at Mona's Musings with a Hint of Romance. She is the mother of four plus three and grandmother of two and the award-winning author or With Mine Own Hand: The Musical Account of Nephi. For a daily Hint of Romance, go to Mona's Musings on Facebook.
Photos from Dreamstime
Watch THE BUILDING OF THE KIRKLAND TEMPLE