Rise up. Two words that have been echoing in my mind this year (and not just because of the Hamilton song!) When the world is a divisive and scary place, that is the time to rise and love and lift.
My blogger/pinata-sharing friend Aleisha McDonald (you can find her on Instagram at instagram.com/leishmcd) gave me this bracelet for HER birthday. That’s right – she gave out 40 bracelets to 40 women to spread light and love during her birthday month! She asked us to choose a bracelet and share why the word inspired us.
The phrase “rise up” is especially meaningful to me because of a passage I recently discovered in my 3rd great grandmother’s biography:
“Maria Ashby feels it is her duty to rise. She wishes to do right and help others. Desires to do all in her power to help build up the kingdom.”
I love looking to the past to gather strength for the present. Maria did not have an easy life. She as born in Illinois right as her family was beginning their westward journey to Utah.
Her father was the first Utahn who died in the line of duty as a sheriff. Maria was only 7-years old. Her family moved to Antelope Island where she spent the rest of her childhood and then lived with her husband there for the beginning of her married life.
Her son writes, “I often wonder how this young mother stood her life on his lonely island shut off from the outside world – no radio, no telephone, and seldom any mail from the outside world.”
Can you imagine? I thought of Maria often at the start of social distancing – I became so grateful for daily phone calls, zoom meetings, and social media interactions!
Later they moved their family to Holden, Utah. She worked tirelessly in the community – storing grain, planting mulberry trees for the silk industry, helping the poor, providing education for the children, tending the sick, sharing meals.
It was said of her, “Her many connections in civic, social, and spiritual activities all through her busy life, allowed her a fine extended contact with a variety of individuals, all of which aided her in the opportunity of enlarging her vision of the meaning of neighbor and her duty to them. Neighbor to her meant anyone in need of anything. No known case of suffering, want, or neglect ever escaped her attention and care.”
Like Maria, I believe it is our time to rise, our time to love our neighbors as ourselves. She inspires me to reach out, to connect, to serve, to learn, to build. I know I can be like Maria and see needs in my community and fill them.
When I become discouraged by what I hear in the news, I can choose to strengthen my family relationships and reach out to help others. I can rally my connections to help neighbors like Maria did.
I am so grateful to this inspiring ancestor and to my giving friend for reminding me of the power that comes when we choose to rise up in difficult times! Are there stories from your family history that have strengthened you this year?