New Books for Women – One Bright Shining Hope and The Ten Virgins
Reviewed by Catherine K. Arveseth
One Bright Shining Hope – Messages for Women from Gordon B. Hinckley
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President Hinckley is loved for his encouragement, modesty, and ability to make women feel that their best is acceptable to the Lord. He continually reminds us that we are loved unconditionally – that our souls are of magnificent worth to our Father in Heaven.
This past weekend, Relief Society sisters around the world were united within the sound of his voice. Again we heard his comforting words rally us to rely on the Savior, to believe that Christ will come to us, strengthening us in whatever difficult thing God has asked us to do.
Over the years, our dear prophet has spoken directly to the women of the Church, honoring them, encouraging them, and guiding them into the important works of service, charity, education and the nurturing of family and children. His words have boosted our faith, comforted our sorrowing spirits, and strengthened our convictions.
President Hinckley has said, “When you save a girl, you save generations. I see this as the one bright shining hope in a world that is marching toward moral self-destruction” (1). What a statement! Consider yourselves, sisters, as that one bright shining hope!
Selected thoughts, paired with pages of stunning photography, have been compiled in this new book. It is a companion volume to Marjorie Pay Hinckley’s book, Small and Simple Things. One Bright Shining Hope could be kept easily on a bedstand for personal reflections or given as a gift. Any woman, member or non-member, would appreciate this thoughtful reminder that God loves women everywhere. He needs them, appreciates them, and wants them to be a force for good throughout the world.
Below are some excerpts that spoke to me as I read through President Hinckley’s messages.
We know not what lies ahead of us. We know not what the coming days will bring. We live in a world of uncertainty. For some, there will be great accomplishment – for others, disappointment. For some, much of rejoicing and gladness, good health, and gracious living. For others, perhaps sickness and a measure of sorrow. We do not know. But one thing we do know. Like the polar star in the heavens, regardless of what the future holds, there stands the Redeemer of the world, the Son of God, certain and sure as the anchor of our immortal lives. He is the rock of our salvation, our strength, our comfort, the very focus of our faith (16).
No other work reaches so close to divinity as does the nurturing of the sons and daughters of God (67).
Let me say to you sisters that you do not hold a second place in our Father’s plan for the eternal happiness and well-being of His children.
You are an absolutely essential part of that plan. Each of you is a daughter of God, endowed with divine birthright. You need no defense of that position (95).As I look back upon my life and think of the wonder of the companion who walked so long beside me. I cannot get over the tremendous influence that she had on me. She was the mother of my children. She gave them life. She nurtured them. She guided them through their formative years. She loved them and dreamed of them and prayed for them. She was so wise and good. She just seemed to have present in her all the good qualities of her most sterling forebears. All of these seemed to come together in that one little girl who bewitched me when I was young and in love. Now a beautiful marker of enduring granite marks her final resting place and engraved in that stone, beneath her name, are the words, “Beloved Eternal Companion.” And so she will be mine and I will be hers through all of the eternities to come (106).
The Ten Virgins – Ten Women, Ten Stories, Ten Lessons for Our Day – By Emily Freeman, with paintings by Simon Dewey
Readers will enjoy this original retelling of the story of the ten virgins. This often-misunderstood parable is rich with meaning and personal application for members of the Church. Freeman has studied the parable intensely and crafted a version that is creative, and meant to spark introspection.
Freeman identifies ten qualities a wise person must have. Respect for sacred things, scriptural knowledge, service, loyalty, personal conversion, and humility are a few. In her parable, five of the virgins are true to their quality. Five are not.
The Ten Virgins is fictional, laced with truths Freeman gleaned from the scriptures and writings by prominent gospel scholars. Her story begins with a kind shopkeeper who designs clay lamps for ten women. He knows each of them well and quickly identifies their talents and tendencies, designing their lamp according to their needs. Each woman uses (or neglects) her lamp in her own way. The shopkeeper is the only one who can sell oil to refill the lamps. Some, who use their lamp often, make the journey to his shop frequently to replenish their supply. Others rarely make time to trek up the hill for oil – too busy with the chores of the day and the demands of others.
Here is Jessa’s story – a woman who wakes up one morning to find her lamp is broken:
Sobbing, [Jessa] picked up each of the pieces and set them gently back on the table. Every time she walked past the small pile she closed he eyes and wondered I f the heartache she felt inside would ever go away. After many days she finally accepted what she had known all along: There was only one who could fix the lamp. Fighting back tears, she gathered up the broken pieces and started up the hill. It wasn’t long before it began to rain. The path became slippery, and then the downpour came. The wind whipped her wet, brown hair into her dark eyes, and it became hard to see. Realizing she wasn’t going to make it, Jessa cried out for help. Within an instant he was there. The shopkeeper had been walking just below her. He covered the young woman with his heavy, warm cloak. Then he lifted hr into his strong and steady arms and carried her up the hill. After the storm, he sent Jessa down the hill with two gifts – her restored lamp and a grateful heart.
You can see how the story works metaphorically. Every Latter-day Saint woman will find traces of herself among the women Freeman characterized. Freeman seems to know our gender well – indirectly tackling our modern-day tendencies and capabilities.
The Ten Virgins features new artwork by Simon Dewey. The book is truly beautiful. Dewey’s depictions are compelling, believable, and very stirring. Each woman’s story provides a lesson for our day – an incentive to develop unfaltering faith and prepare diligently, steadily, for the day the Bridegroom will come.
“Wherefore, be faithful, praying always, having your lamps trimmed and burning, and oil with you, that you may be ready at the coming of the Bridegroom” (Doctrine and Covenants 33:17).