You may ask, and legitimately, what the death of one old person with an eighty-year connection to my ward has to do with you.
Let me try to explain.
About two years ago when Mary’s health had degraded to the point that she could no longer live in her own home, her family cleared out most of her belongings. To me came some old issues of Dialogue, which deepened a long fascination with Dialogue‘s early issues.
From the second issue, the first published letter to the editors:
Flipping through these old issues I find letters from and articles by stalwarts like Richard Bushman (still with us) and Samuel W. Taylor (dearly departed), as well as a large number of letters-to-the-editor from people I do not know but who resided in cities that neighbor my current home—or previous homes. Heck, the second story published by Dialogue was written by a member of my ward. And much of what I read are concerns we continue to grapple with today.
In other words, I see our cultural and religious family in these pages.
But I’m not mentioning Mary just because she published a letter in Dialogue. Mary means more than that.
Mary started our ward’s tradition of an interlude—a hymn played on the organ between the end of the sacrament and the restarting of the meeting. Practically everyone who visits our ward finds this liminal space valuable. It’s a further moment to reside in the meeting’s most sacred space. It allows those arriving late to enter without the bishopric having to speak over their tread. It gives the songs of Zion a moment to channel our reflection. It bookends sacred ritual with sacred hymnody.
Those who move away miss it terribly.
I imagine more wards will eventually begin this tradition. Perhaps other Marys have already begun it.
But here, it all began with one woman, a high-school librarian, a woman who survived tragedy upon tragedy, a Saint.
Of course this is an arts-and-culture blog and of course I am using arts-and-culture examples. But, if you like, you can spread the argument beyond arts and culture. Ultimately, we can all be like Mary. We can all make a difference. We can be part of something that is widely visible—supporting the modern literary and historical movement by subscribing to the first issue of Dialogue—or we can initiate something small that changes our own local community for the better.
We may or many not see what we have accomplished.
Perhaps only the Lord will see.
But we can all be like Mary.