The Pioneering Spirit

Today I was looking through my stationery collection (yes I have a stationery collection that craves a pen pal) when I saw my Minerva Teichert note cards I bought several years ago at the BYU Museum of Art.  Minerva was an artist that reached her prime in the 1930s in Utah.  She is primarily known within the Mormon community but she deserves a wider audience.  Her palate is unique and relaxing- using mostly pastel colors.   Some of my favorite of her paintings are:

Don’t you think these paintings are beautiful? I actually have the Martha and Mary one (the middle one) framed in my dining room.  Seeing that painting reminds me to take a second and “choose the better part.”

Anyway, today I was looking through my note cards and one of Teicherts painting called Zion Ho! stood out to me.  It is a painting of a pioneer woman raising her hands to the heavens as she pushes her hand cart through a mountain valley.  I can only imagine that she is saying “Yes! I did it! Another mountain done!”

I’ve always looked at the pioneers and thought “I could never do that.”  I am so not a hiker/camper.  My survival skills are next to nothing and I know I would be a complainer.  (I’d drive everyone crazy.)  That said- when I looked at this painting I felt a moment of connection with the woman.  Right now I am fighting the battle of my life.  I don’t know why I’ve been given this trial or why it has to be so hard but I suppose valiant saints of any era have not known the answers to those questions.  As I looked at her I felt a comfort almost speaking from her saying “you can do it! It is hard and scary!  Keep going! We set the path for you now run on it!”

The pioneer women didn’t know why they were persecuted, kicked out of their country, forced to travel thousands of miles across a snowy wilderness, to find a home in a salt-lake’d desert surrounded by ominous mountains.  They must have had moments of discouragement and frustration.  I wish I could have heard those conversations. Can you imagine how the women must have comforted each other?  I actually can because I think of the comfort and support given to me with my trial.

I know my trials are light in comparison to the deep suffering of the Pioneers  but their legacy of thriving through trials makes me want to push harder until I conquer.  It’s almost like a  “fellowship of sufferings” (Philipians  3:10).  The strength of the pioneer women strengthen me, and I in-turn strengthen others.  Our various trials may be different but the experience of suffering is the same.

Looking at the painting I felt the sufferings of the woman but also the exclamation of victory.  I wanted to go up and hug her but sadly it is a painting!  Still, the moment of connection reminded me that many have faced difficult trials that never seemed to end, yet they persevered with faith. I know if they could do it then, I can do it now. Zion Ho!

3 thoughts on “The Pioneering Spirit

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