Streams in the Desert

IMG_1896Do you ever feel weary? Like, to the bone, deep in your core, depleted spiritual exhaustion? I do. I have been feeling that way lately, especially when it comes to feminism. It seems that no matter how many times I gently (or sometimes not so gently) call out the every day sexism I see, no matter how reasonable my reasoning is, it doesn’t make a difference.

A few years ago my mother got me a beautiful book called Streams in the Desert. It’s a collection of daily thoughts and scriptures compiled by a woman named Mrs. Cowan who, along with her husband worked as a missionary in Asia, and was first published in 1925. Every day has a scripture, a thought from Mrs. Cowan, and often a poem. I often turn to this book when I’m feeling weary.

Last night I was reading and came across this passage:

“Life is a steep climb, and it does us good to have somebody ‘call back’ and cheerily beckon us on up the high hill. We are all climbers together and we must help each other. This mountain climbing is serious business, but glorious. It takes strength and steady step to find the summits. The outlook widens with the altitude. If any of us has found anything worth while, we ought to ‘call back’.”

This was a really good reminder to me and got me thinking. Helping others is part of why we are here. Part of that is encouraging and uplifting, and sharing with others the good that we find in the world.  One of the good things that I have found is feminism. Sure, there are things that are not ok – the power differential between men and women causes all kinds of inequality. But feminism is a lens through which we can identify it and then try to fix it. That is a very empowering feeling. Feminism has given me a language to talk about things that are wrong in the world. Naming the problems that face us makes them seem more manageable, and allow us to make progress and keep moving forward toward fixing them.

What are some of the worth while things you want to ‘call back’ about?


  1. Definitely feminism for me as well. And not only because it gives me a lens and a language to name problems (those are super important) but also because it has given me the best friends of my life. I LOVE my Mormon feminist communities — in them I find people that understand me at the deepest level of my soul. And these communities give me women to admire and look to as they live their lives honestly, graciously and compassionately.

    Another thing I would call out — how terrific other faith traditions are! I’ve found a lot of spiritual uplift by going to the UCC church sometimes. UCC saved Jesus for me at a time (Prop 8) when everything could have been lost and I could have gone towards atheism. The UCC allowed me to actually maintain my connection to Mormonism and to love Jesus in a whole new way. If anyone is in a spiritual desert, I highly encourage them to look around and visit another church. Might open up some spiritual doors one never expected.

    • Caroline, I feel like I’m behind you on the mountain right now hearing you call back. I went to the Community of Christ church here last Sunday and felt the spirit like I haven’t at church in a long time. Church has been so painful for me lately that I finally made the leap to try a new church. I have been in anguish this week wondering whether I should continue going to this congregation that was so welcoming and really and sincerely wants me there, or to continue to worship with people who don’t want me there, just because it’s the religion of my birth that continues to be in my heart. I think I will continue at the Community of Christ at least for the winter when my depression is worse, so that I can have a safe place to find water in my spiritual dessert. Thank you for calling back!

      • Jenny, I’m so thrilled that my words were helpful! Goes to show just how powerful this “calling back” is. I’ve been to the Community of Christ before, and it was pretty neat — particularly the fact that a woman was leading and presiding. I think you are wise to go where you find spiritual comfort right now. Stock up on that, and then you’ll be stronger when you decide to return to your ward.

  2. Same. Feminism keeps me in the church that otherwise often feels like it doesn’t want me.

    I’ve not a calling for about 3 years now, though I am an active, temple recommend holding member. Its such a small thing, and yet, not having a calling at church prevents me from getting to know people. Having a community of like-minded women encourages me to stay, and invite others who feel “othered” to stay as well.

  3. The passage you cited made me think of our feminist sisters and how some of us are up higher on the mountain at certain times, and we can call back to our sisters who are struggling below and give them hope. I know that when I feel that I am down on the mountain, struggling to continue forward, I look to you amazing sisters in the bloggernacle, and it gives me strength to forge on.

  4. I love this!! I have definitely felt this weariness lately. I feel like I am calling back with the beautiful things I see and people don’t see it, so they tell me I’m just being negative. But I also know that I only made it up this mountain because a very patient friend of mine kept calling back to me and nudging me forward to see the beautiful view of feminism. Great post!

  5. Wouldn’t this make a great way to freshen up the “Good News Minute” in Relief Society?

    Thank you for this, Jess R. I’ll have to think for a bit on what to call back, but I love the imagery.

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