As I was looking through an old journal, I came across a line I wrote for myself that simply said, “Think about the word redemption.” I drove across town to deliver some freezer meals to a working single mother in my ward over the weekend. The thin driveway was cluttered with a limp bicycle wheel and a rusted car part, and as I stood at the front door I looked up to another apartment’s sliding glass door, smudged with small-handed goop, damp from the inside morning heat against the cold air. No paint around the window frames was white, but I could tell it once had been. The woman opened the door to me. Her house smelled clean in the way that old apartments can never fully be clean, and her eighteen-year-old son who slept on a bed that encompassed the entire living room pulled a quilt up over his head.
The scene was not beautiful to me. It was a type of hard that I have not touched and cannot pretend to really understand. The gesture some other mothers and I made in putting together freezer meals for her felt almost laughable in light of hardship, but then I thought about that word redemption.
There are many difficult life circumstances—single motherhood among them—I cannot speak to for lack of personal experience. But maybe after all, if Mormonism has taught me nothing more than a dogged and indisputable desire to better understand these things, and to try to be a balm of Gilead wherever I go, my spiritual journey is not in vain.
While I’m not exactly sure what redemption looks like, it seems I felt something of it in the hug the woman gave me as I stood in her front door, halfway between the wild world and the warmth of the home she had created with so little.
Editor’s note: this was an excerpt from a fantastic little book written by Ashley Mae Hoiland called One Hundred Birds Taught Me to Fly. It’s available on Amazon and Audible. One Hundred Birds Taught Me to Fly is part of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute’s Living Faith book series.