Guest Post: Woman in the Corner

Guest Post by Emmaly Renshaw. Emmaly is a mother of four, agricultural nonprofit director, lover of fields, woods, plants, and the Aldi aisle of shame.

I wrestle with the idea of an eternity of becoming like the heavenly mother we are allowed to know, not the Heavenly Mother we need to know. Do I want an existence where my children only can communicate with my spouse as I fade into the background with barely an utterance of name, much less a relationship? In my search, I did what was prescribed, to search within defined sacred space.

This is what the temple teaches me as a woman: to take a silent seat on the side. Am I simply to become the woman in the corner at the command of the officiator? Or is the woman standing in the celestial room symbolic of Heavenly Mother? Why is she assigned to be a silent observer on the other side of the door and not present at the veil to surround us with open arms?

I enter the celestial room and see a woman standing there with hands folded in front of her, a quick flash of eye contact before her gaze drops back to the floor with a strained smile. Is this symbolic of Her? The last few times, I’ve lost my composure as I sit in this space with my grief as my faith shifts and fractures. And yet she stands there without response. Where is the woman willing to bury you in her bosom as you let it all go? The one to whisper, “This is part of the journey; I’ll help you sort it out in this space we consider sacred.” The only words she ever utters are, “Do you know your way to the dressing room?” as I head for the exit. My answer is yes. We’ve seen each other a dozen times at this exit door. I’m well aware of how to leave. Show me how to stay.

I went to the temple to find Her; I left without Her. Leaders ask why do you feel the need to search for more? Because I am a mother too. After 40 years, I search for Heavenly Mother in relegated spaces. It’s a daring journey, one without a map. I am discovering Her in the soft leaves underfoot off the prescribed paths where the morning fog envelopes you and silences the world. There is remorse that I didn’t get to know Her sooner, but I have daughters, and as they come of age, a gift I can give them is the authority to develop their relationships with the Divine.



  1. I often think of Eve, the mother of all living, as I ponder Heavenly Mother. Eve who is punished for bringing to pass the plan of happiness. Cursed to bear her children in suffering, cursed to hearken to her husband, put into her place. In the temple film of old, Eve is wordless once they are driven from the garden, standing silently, looking admiringly at her husband Adam. If we can learn anything of Heavenly Mother in the temple, perhaps it is through the prortrayal of Eve.

  2. “I’m well aware of how to leave. Show me how to stay.” So powerful. Currently crying. Thank you for articulating my desire as well.

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