The first time I went to the Manti Temple was shortly before I began my freshman year at BYU. My parents had deposited me with some family friends and made the long drive back to Wisconsin. I knew no one in the area so when these friends asked if I wanted to accompany them down to Manti and wait on the temple grounds while they attended a wedding, I thought, “why not?” The drive was long and the terrain so different from the green woods of my home. When the temple came into view, it took my breath away. It was a beautiful oasis in the midst of a dry, weathered landscape. It towered over everything and stood like the city on the hill from the scriptures.
The second time I went to the Manti Temple was to receive my own endowment. I knew that Manti was the only place I wanted to go. That first sighting of Manti had captured my heart, and though the Provo Temple was minutes away, there was no question of where I would go. The day filled me with awe and questions. The interior of the building was a palace with stunning art and a beauty I had not anticipated. The live session gave me the liturgy I had often felt missing from regular weekly worship.
The third and final time I went to the Manti Temple was to get married. Again, there were many temples closer and more convenient, but Manti was the temple of my heart. I know that various family members grumbled about the 2 hour drive each way—but it was my day, my temple, and I knew that I needed to go to this oasis to soak up the blessings to begin my new life with my new husband.
Since those visits, the temple has evolved in its meaning. For others, what is a place of peace and solace has become for me a place of anguish. At this point in my life I am the only practicing Mormon in my immediate household and rather than bring relief, the temple has become a mirage. It reminds me of who in my family is not allowed inside and how I no longer fit into the perfect vision of what a temple-going family should be. While it is not the oasis I once treasured, nevertheless, the temple is still a place I hold dear. My faith and hope whisper to me that one day things may change and I may return and drink from its cool waters.
When I learned of the remodeling of the Manti Temple and that the breathtaking Minerva Teichert murals were to be destroyed, I was stunned. For a church that seemed to save every bit of material culture from church history, I couldn’t understand why these murals weren’t precious enough to preserve. My one-time oasis was under threat and I had no means to come to her aid. My deepest hopes are that church officials will reconsider and find a way to save this cherished woman’s work.
By avocation, I am a quilter. When significant emotions roil within me I find solace in fabric. Last summer, during the furor of the Black Lives Matter rallies, I poured my energies into “Rise Up”, a wall quilt designed by the talented Melissa Mason. It gave me focus and helped me in some way to process what was going on. With the Manti Temple remodel, I find myself turning again to fabric as I figure out how I feel and reconnect to that oasis in the desert.
Thus a new project. “Hosanna Shout,” the working title of this art-quilt project, seeks to capture the wonder and transcendence that is found in the location and art of the Manti Temple. When a new temple is dedicated, those in attendance raise and wave a white handkerchief, while saying, “Hosanna!” as a sign of praise. This quilt will be constructed from donated handkerchiefs used for the Hosanna Shout in temple dedications throughout the years and from all over the globe.
Though we may get donations from both men and women, this installation will focus on witnessing women’s work. Many of the handkerchiefs have been handmade or hand-detailed by spiritually observant women who have strong connections to the temple and its sacred nature. Others will come from those whose ties to the temple are more complicated and strained, but nonetheless profound. My hope is that this quilt will be a fabric oasis to remind us that our material culture matters.
If you would like to be a part of this project, please consider donating your white Hosanna Shout handkerchiefs. You can send them to me, along with your name and the temple where/for it was used. I will be documenting all of the donations on the back side of the finished piece. All donations must be mailed by May 3, 2021.
Send handkerchiefs to:
15601 Cedar Cove Ct.
Granger, IN 46530