Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Your Book Is a True Book

More Than Just a Myth

The day that LDS missionaries knocked on my door will always stand out as one of the most pivotal moments of my life.  Not that I was “searching” for meaning---I had been deeply religious since childhood, spent seven years in the convent, left that lifestyle because it wasn’t bringing me closer to God, and was involved in my current church congregation with choir work and teaching of religion.

In fact, I had made a firm resolution not to discuss religion with any door-to-door missionaries,  because of the spirit of contention that frequently arose when conflicting interpretations of scripture were under discussion. But the Lord in his goodness had prepared me for this visit. I had, a few months earlier, heard someone make a remark that connected the “Mormon” religion
to some book about the Quetzlcoatl mythology of South America, prompting me to want to investigate any light such a book might shed on the feathered-serpent themes of other literatures I had studied. I didn’t have any idea how much authority was behind the remark, or what I would find, but I had filed it for future reference, just to satisfy my curiosity. Sooner or later, I would read the “Mormon” book and check out its mythological validity.

Answering the door that day, I was not thinking about books or mythological themes.  I was a busy young mother spending most of my energy nursing a small baby and chasing a very active three-year-old. But as I approached the door, my mind was overcome with a kind of vision, a mental picture of Abraham going to the door of his tent, on the day angels brought him an important message. I was impressed with the premonition that opening that door would bring a message of some importance.

Nevertheless, I was confused when all that stood there were these two young men, well-labeled as LDS missionaries. If it hadn’t been for the “vision,” I would have politely said good-bye and shut the door.  I decided, instead, that I needed to find out what sort of message they had for me.

It started out all wrong. One of them asked me if I believed in prophets.  Of course I did, since personal experiences of prophecy had occurred in my own life, and I was familiar with such experiences of other people.  But when these young men enthusiastically presented me a photo of fifteen men in modern business suits and proclaimed that there was both prophet and apostles were currently on the earth, credibility was stretched to the limit.  I had been brought up in a religion where clergy dressed the part, and business suits were not what they wore!  So I decided, generously, to ignore the remark. And I searched, mentally, for some rational foundation for the “vision” still  fresh in my mind.  

I do not remember how I made the connection that “Latter-day Saint” missionaries might know something about a “Mormon” book.  But once that thought crossed my mind, I was quick to pursue the topic. “Don’t you have some kind of a book?” I asked.  They did.  I told them I had not found it in the library, and did not know where to get it, and maybe they could help me. They could.  They volunteered to come back with a copy the following week. And I made a mental note to be unavailable for religious “discussion,” so that they could simply drop off the book and leave.

When I finally did receive my copy of the book, I thanked the young men and agreed, again without any sense of commitment, that they could come back to answer any questions I had. Later that evening, with my husband home from work and the children somewhat settled down, I picked up the book to read.  But nothing had prepared me for what I found in its pages, and it was with awe, shock, delight, and some confusion that I shortly announced to my husband my most amazing discovery: “This is a book of Scripture!” There was no doubt at all. I had done enough serious scripture study, and read enough of the world’s “sacred” literature, to become immediately aware that this book was not a record of myth, or an ancient history text, or anything other than the true Word of God. It spoke to me with that spiritual voice, and, as I began following footnotes and looking up topics that interested me, it gave me answers to many of the theological questions I had puzzled over for years. It was, without doubt, the most exciting book I had ever picked up, and it continued to amaze and edify me whatever page I opened it to.

When the young missionaries returned, as they had promised, I was home. And I had a message of great importance for them. I told them something I felt they needed to know: “Your book is a true book!”  And I demanded to know why it was the property of their church, feeling that it was entirely in the wrong hands! At that point, I was ready to listen to what they had to say, and, after many months of historical investigation, acknowledge that this wonderful book had not only brought me light and knowledge beyond my highest expectations, but it had also led me to the fullness of the Gospel, the power of the priesthood, and the knowledge that those fifteen men in business suits were evidence of the true Church of Jesus Christ, present again upon the earth.

Ann Cue, Madison Fourth Ward, Madison Wisconsin Stake
as published in Ensign magazine, April 2006

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Never Too Old

Who starts a new career at age 70? I did, and this is the story of how it all began. 

I first met Gina Weibel when we were both attending local Cub Scout leadership training meetings, as representatives of our church units. Gina was from Third Ward, and I from Fourth Ward, but it was a natural thing for the LDS Scout leaders to get together at these training meetings. 

It was Facebook that took our relationship to another level. I had created a Facebook Group exclusively for the members of our Ward. When Gina asked to join the group, at first I ignored her request. But she persisted, and eventually I made an exception, and let her in.  

It was early in 2012 that Gina made a Facebook post that set my new career in motion. She was looking for someone to “help  out” in her music studio, someone who could play the piano, and enjoyed being with little children. I had time on my hands, fit the description, and let her know I was available. 

I began sitting in on Gina’s Let’s Play Music classes to discover what would be required of a studio assistant. At that time the LPM Corporate leaders were experimenting with the idea of having studio assistants, who would work for a fully accredited teacher. But when they decided that these assistants would need to be fully trained, I began to rethink my plans. The training was very expensive, and required a trip to Utah. Then one day I overheard some of the parents talking about the need for a piano teacher to work with the graduating children, and I thought perhaps that would be a better way for me to get involved.  I continued to sit in on Gina’s classes and consider my options.  

But Gina did get tired of waiting for me to make up my mind, and one day I came to the music class and met another observer. Jennifer said she was there to interview for the Assistant position! Suddenly I felt robbed: it became very clear that this was MY position after all. My decision was firm, so Gina ended up hiring both of us! Jennifer and I attended training in Utah in May of 2012, and we both taught in Gina’s studio that year. In 2013 the assistant program was terminated, I went back to Utah for more training, and opened my own studio, with 28 students. In 2014 Gina moved away, and my studio grew to 63. As I write this, I feel it was all meant to be.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

For too long I have been putting off writing my personal history. But the time has come. So I am taking advantage of this blogspace to put together bits and pieces that I would like to preserve. And I am beginning by posting a couple of stories that are already written.

This Match Was Made in Heaven

This Match Was Made in Heaven

Most of the time when somebody asks me how I first met my husband, I revert to a short version of the story. Perhaps it is time to record the whole story, as I recall it more than twenty-five years later. It is, after all, a great story, and worth the telling.

Unlike most little girls I knew, I did not grow up dreaming of my Prince Charming and choosing names for our future babies. Marriage was not in my plans. My plan was to be perfect, and I had been repeatedly taught that perfect meant forsaking marriage and walking the high road as a "Bride of Christ." I was also taught that God would call me to this lofty position. For years I prayed for, and waited for this calling. It never came. Instead, acting on good theological advice that my desire alone was sufficient motivation, at the age of twenty-one I finally acted upon my aspirations and entered a convent, expecting to spend the rest of my life in the service of God.

It took seven years for me to realize, with certainty, that the path I had chosen was not bringing me closer to my goals. Perhaps I was not cut out for such high perfection after all. Painfully I acknowledged that it would be better for me to go back into the world and work out my salvation with a life-partner at my side. I knew very little about how difficult it would be to find that partner.

The next four years I can best describe as a learning time. In the academic arena, I completed a Master’s degree and all the course work and examinations for a PhD at Marquette University in Milwaukee. In the school of life, I struggled to understand the complexities of male-female relationships. To make a long and painful chapter of my life very short, in the spring of 1974 I was a single parent, and considering the possibility that I might never find a compatible mate. Being happily married was beginning to look like the stuff fairy tales were made of, but not an option in real life.

This is where the story begins, in the spring of 1974. My baby was now a toddler, and it was time for the Lord to lend a helping hand. I believe that what started it all was a small incident in the office of my department chairman, after a routine interview regarding the progress of my doctoral dissertation. After academic matters were dispensed with, Dr. Schwarz dropped his professional tone, looked me straight in the eye, and said to me, "Ann, I want you to know I strongly disapprove of you raising your child without a father." (This was the 70's, and I was in a Jesuit university.)

Without a moment’s hesitation, I answered from my heart, "Dr. Schwartz, if Martin needs a father, God will provide a father." I believed it. And the moment I said it, I knew it was true.  Alone, I was getting nowhere with this problem. But if it was God’s will, it would be taken care of. What I still didn’t know was which direction the IF would lead, that is, whether or not a father was needed. I would continue to watch and pray. As I look back on that time, that is when a series of events was set into motion that led to an answer to my prayers, and I believe strongly that that simple act of faith in my chairman’s office was the spiritual trigger that opened up the heavens to pour down the greatest blessings of my life.

This is how it played out. By the end of that summer, I was facing more decisions, regarding both career and parenting. My dissertation was nearing completion, my fellowships had expired, and it was time to get a job. Somehow, I was in the right place at the right time, and received the sure promise of a position at UW-Milwaukee. Then, in what looked like a strange twist of fate, I was also offered a position at Marquette. For less pay, I could avoid the extra travel and time away from my child. It was a tough decision, and I had exactly one day to make it. The still small voice within, which I had learned to trust, said to stay at Marquette. I withdrew my application at UW-M, trusting that this was the right thing to do.

After that, the helping hand from heaven became more and more intrusive. My little voice told me I needed to look into my child care arrangement, and I discovered a situation I was not happy with. I was directed to exactly the right replacement, but now the law required a TB skin test before my toddler could be admitted to the new nursery school. And time was getting short, before the beginning of the fall semester.  Each time I tried to schedule an appointment at the clinic that could take care of this piece of business, my phone call was not answered. By the most curious confluence of happenings and mishappenings, I finally scheduled the appointment for Friday afternoon, September 6, my birthday. I had to hurry back home from morning classes,  pick up my child for what I hoped was the last time at the babysitter, and get back to the South Side clinic for the skin test. It was a tight schedule,  but we did it.

As we left the clinic, something else occurred which probably contributed to the outcome of what was to follow. Painters were on duty, doing some seasonal maintenance work, and they stopped to play with my child. Martin, a charmer at 22 months, enjoyed their attention. My mood changed, and I decided to take advantage of the day and the circumstances to drive back to the Marquette campus and celebrate my birthday at the graduate-student/faculty lounge where a TGIF was very likely in progress.

And so it happened that, for the first and only time of all the months and years I lived in Milwaukee, I found myself driving north on Eighteenth Street, toward Wisconsin Avenue, heading for the more familiar parking places I was in the custom of using. And then the "little voice" did something to me most amazing. It became very, very loud, as loud as if a person were speaking right into my ear. Right in the middle of the block, in what seemed a very inconvenient place, it said, "Park here." I was not about to disobey such an urgent command.

I parked. I now had a long walk, uphill, to the recreation facility, toddler in tow. We did not get very far before Martin broke away from me and ran, calling "Painter, painter," toward the International House of Pancakes, where, sure enough, a painter was on duty. At the time, I had no knowledge of the equally unusual set of circumstances that had brought this particular painter to  this particular place on the corner of Eighteenth and Wisconsin at the precise time I would be walking by. I found out much later that he should have been done with that job and out of Milwaukee a few weeks earlier, but delays kept occurring.

In any case, this particular painter did not mind being interrupted by a child. He stopped his work and brought the little one back to me, and there on the sidewalk we engaged in polite, friendly conversation. Something about a better way to tie a child’s shoelaces. And about the unique architectural features of Milwaukee’s oldest buildings. And what sounded like a pick-up line at a singles’ party, "I’m a Virgo, what’s your sign?" I told him I was also a Virgo, and today was my birthday. He had the nerve to ask me if I was busy that evening, because "Virgos like to celebrate their birthdays." No, I had a date. That was true.

We continued to talk. He had recently lost his wife to cancer, and had left California to escape the memories that were causing him continued grief. I acknowledged that I was also unattached. He had gentle blue eyes, a look of kindness and compassion, and was obviously a hit with my son. I decided this conversation was probably more interesting than any academic small talk probably in progress at the TGIF. So when he asked me once again whether I was free later in the day, I told him yes, I really did have a birthday date for the evening, but I could take some time to converse with him now. I found out later that at that point he was only interested in me as somebody to talk to, a passing stranger.  With my hair pinned up in a tight bun, and my high-necked dress, he had categorized me as an old-maid schoolteacher type, definitely without romantic appeal. But he had a soft spot for children.

There was a small working-man’s bar a few blocks back down the hill, where his grungy work clothes would not get a second glance. I decided that would be the best place to continue this "chance" meeting. What is etched forever into my memory is the walk we made together as we moved to this more comfortable location, me and Jim swinging Martin between us, everyone rather caught up in the delicious excitement of making a new friend. There was a feeling of rightness, of balance, when man, woman, and child walked together. I remember thinking, it is too bad life doesn’t turn out this way in the end.

It was in that little bar that events took a sudden and irreversible turn.  We found a booth, ordered drinks, and continued to talk.  Martin decided he had to use the potty. He was still in training, and needed Mom’s help. So I took him to the ladies’ room. And then I picked him up to carry him back to our booth. He was in a playful mood, and knocked loose a few of my hairpins. My long hair, so carefully pinned into place, began to fall into my face and block my view of where I was walking. With two arms around a wiggling child, I acted instinctively to preserve a what dignity I could: somehow I pulled loose one more pin, and then I swung my head so that all the hair fell down, and I could at least see where I was going.

That was the moment that changed everything. Jim was watching. And in the loosening of my hair this became more than a chance encounter in a strange city on a long cross-country journey. A new chemistry entered the picture. He has explained it to me many times since that day: "At that moment, I knew I had to have you." Sometimes I even wonder whether in some premortal training school I practiced that particular move, or even set it up as a signal that we would recognized in earth-life. It was that significant. He had made up his mind to see me again.

After Saturday’s dinner-date it became evident that this relationship was moving very quickly for both of us. It had to: he was about to leave his Milwaukee job site and go on to his next assignment in Chicago. It was a confusing time for me: we seemed mismatched in every possible way, and yet it felt so good being with him. And I was determined not to get into another bad dead-ended relationship, where the emotional stakes were high. Worst of all, he had no religion. He told me he had tried them all, and none was right for him. This I found to be very disturbing. My vision of family life included family prayer and total centering around church and church activities.

I had known Jim only three days when I decided to take my new problem to the Lord. My prayer was very simple. "Lord, I am beginning to like this man. He is good to my child. But he is a non-believer, and not even interested in religion. Shall I say good-bye to him right now?"

The answer was swift, sure, and totally unexpected. I had gone, like Abraham, to the altar of sacrifice. Instead, I was told, in that clear voice, "Marry him." My interpretation was this: perhaps the sacrifice was mine, not to have a partner with whom I could share my practice of religion and my quest for spiritual perfection. Perhaps this was the sacrifice I needed to make, now that God had answered my earlier prayer, and found a father for my child. I decided I was willing to make that sacrifice.

Three weeks later we were planning our marriage. And I was composing love poems during the time I had allotted to dissertation writing. We were married during the Christmas season. As events unfolded, it turned out that my "sacrifice" was no loss to me at all. But that is another story.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Tribute to Primary Workers

A Tribute to Primary Workers
(with regards to Dr Seuss)

Today is your day.
You’re off to great places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
Any direction you choose.

You needed a calling
To serve in the Ward.
The Bishop has spoken:
He checked with the Lord.

The children were waiting,
And wondering: WHO?
Then your Primary called:
They want to have YOU.

But you’re not on your own.
And you know what you know.
(There are signs on the doors
So you know where to go.)

Oh, the places you’ll go
With each girl and boy!
You’ll learn how to love them
And serve them with joy.

You’ll teach with the Spirit,
You’ll brighten their day.
You’ll know when to listen.
You’ll know when to play.

You’ll travel together.
You’ll walk hand in hand
To discover the wonders
Of Primary land.

Oh, the songs that you’ll sing!
Oh, the places you’ll go!
The puppets you’ll dress
And the bubbles you’ll blow.

Oh the places you’ll go.
The surprises you’ll meet.
And when the day’s over
The parents you’ll greet,

And you’ll have to decide
What to tell them today.
Do they need to know all?
Just what will you say?

Will you tell them your stories,
Your up-to-date news?
Who found ticks in their hair?
Who lost both their shoes?

For bad things can happen,
And happen they will.
That CTR ring
Can go down, like a pill!

The girls will get giggles,
And boys will be boys.
And sometimes you can’t even
Think through the noise.

Chairs can tip over,
And tables can fall,
And sometimes the children
Won’t listen at all.

But if you can keep them
Somewhere in plain sight,
And not ever lose them,
You will be all right.

Then what joy will be yours;
How your heart will delight
When all eyes are upon you
And everything’s right

In that sweet special time
When you know all can hear
The voice of the Spirit
Whispering near.

Oh, the joy you will feel,
And the places you’ll go,
When the Spirit is there
And you know that they know.

But before you can stop it
These children are grown.
And your Primary kids
Have kids of their own.

Your cubs become Eagles,
Fly out of the nest.
They go on their missions;
They pass every test.

Your girls grow to women
And fondly recall
Their Wednesday night fun:
Purple cookies and all!

And soon when they gather
Their children around,
They’ll surely remember
The love that they found

When a Primary teacher,
With voice soft and clear,
Told stories of Jesus
And made Him feel near.

Oh, the places they’ll go
And the joy they will find
When memories of Primary
Come to their mind.

So move on with courage.
There’s no time to rest.
Whatever your calling,
This work is the best.

Your Sunbeams and Valiants,
Your wolves and your bears,
Your Nursery tots,
And your sweet CTR’s

Are along on your journey,
This journey you know
Is never quite done:
You’ve got places to go.

You’ve got places to go,
You’ve got more things to do
Before this incredible
Journey is through.

Ann Cue
Madison Fourth Ward
Madison WI, 2009

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Special Sunday Experience

On Sunday I was invited to the 5-6-year-old Primary (Sunday School) class to be a guest speaker. I was asked to talk about Jesus. I told them a story from my own childhood, a strong memory from when I was about their age.
I had had very little in the way of religious education. Church services were in another language, and there was no religious discussion or prayer in the home. Then one day I received a little Golden Book of children's songs. (Yes, I was an early reader, and even played music on a small xylophone.) One of the songs was "Jesus Loves Me, This I Know." I had never heard it before. And I had never before heard the idea that someone named Jesus loved me. However, when I heard this song, the sweetest feeling came over me, and I knew it was true. Soon I was attending "catechism" classes, and learning all I could about the Saviour, a quest which led, eventually, to my discovery of the Restored Gospel and a much deeper understanding of Who He is, and just how much He does love me.