From the Relief Society Magazine, April 1936 –
By Roxana F. Hase
Emma Lerner stopped her little coupe in front of Jerusha Brown’s bungalow. “Well, here we are, Lelia, our very last visit of the month.”
As they stepped out into the snow Lelia sighed, “Well, one thing sure, we won’t get into her house today. This snow is wet and we might track up her rug.”
“But I intend to get in, Lelia. Come on.”
They wiped their feet carefully on the porch mat and rang the bell. Almost immediately Jerusha opened the door a crack, duster in hand, although it was mid-afternoon. There was no warmth in her short reply to their greeting, but Emma Lerner was known as a resourceful woman. They had no been invited in for the past two months and she hoped to find out why. Lelia would gladly have cancelled the call, but not so Emma.
“My, but it smells good in there, Sister Brown. You must be baking bread.”
“I am,” but there was no signs of her relenting, nor did she relinquish her hold upon the inner door knob.
Emma cleared her throat. “We have a special message for you this month, Sister Brown, but we do not want you to take cold standing there in a draught.”
Jerusha hesitated a moment longer and looked dubiously at their damp shoes. “Well, I guess you might as well come in. I sure do wish the weather would clear up. The snow makes so much extra work.”
“Yes, but I love the tingle it gives one. My, but you have things nice and cozy.”
Jerusha brushed an imaginary speck of dust from the leather davenport and asked them to sit down. She sat very stiff and erect on the edge of a rocking chair and waited for Emma to begin.
“First, we would like to invite you to attend our annual Day party on March 17th. We always have a lovely time. Then as Second Counselor I have been commissioned to ask you to consider the position of pianist for our organization.”
“Oh, no, no. I couldn’t possibly. My home keeps me too busy. I never have felt that I could give time to the church on week days.”
“But Rosalie is nearly through high school, and she must help you a good deal.”
“Oh, yes, of course. But I feel that I should be here to see that she does things properly. She is my only child, you know, and I want her to be a good housekeeper at least. To me the home is the most important thing in the world.”
“Of course it is,” Lelia put in, “and the Relief society helps us to make our homes better all the time.”
“Well, I am quite sure that if I started to Relief Society I should be neglecting something here. You know that I never miss church on Sunday, and John pays our tithes and offerings and I feel that quite sufficient.”
“But did you ever think of tithing yourself, Sister Brown?”
“Exactly. I mean giving one tenth of yourself, or your talents, or time to the church.”
“Well, of all things! Why, a person wouldn’t be able to accomplish anything else.”
“You would be surprised how much more you really do accomplish, Sister Brown. And tithing ourselves has been the special hobby of some of us this winter. I have never found anything more worthwhile nor interesting. You with your wonderful musical talent would have no trouble at all in making your quota. Your time at Relief society could be counted, and your practice time at home. Also whatever time you spent studying the lessons. Some of the members are giving their tenth in these ways; music, singing, visiting the sick or home-bound, making calls as visiting teachers, canning fruit, or sewing for donations. You would marvel at the ways and means available. Many of them are giving far more than one tenth.”
Emma had used the right psychology. Jerusha had an inborn sense of duty. Yet she had never considered the auxiliary organizations of the church as being of much importance. She began to wonder now if the people of the ward really did consider her as one that wasn’t doing her full duty. The Lord himself had set Sunday apart as a day of worship. She fully believed in keeping the Sabbath. She sighed heavily. “I wonder if we really are supposed to do that?”
Emma’s answer was ready. “And why not? Truly the windows of heaven have opened up and poured rich blessings upon all of our members. They have all remarked about it. You know the Relief Society is really an inspired organization. The Prophet himself gave it to us with promises of great blessings. Would you have time to play my favorite song for us, Sister Brown? As I remember, you have a very fine soprano voice, too. The Lord did not endow you with all of these fine talents for naught.”
Jerusha laid her beloved duster on the polished floor and played, “Make the World Brighter.” Her face glowed with pride as she sang with ease the highest notes while Lelia had to pause for breath. Quickly she turned the pages to “Have I Done Any Good in the World Today?” “This was always my mother’s favorite song,” she said. “Let’s sing it.”
The song ended, they all sat back in meditation for a moment. The peacefulness seemed almost too sweet to disturb.
Emma looked at her watch. “It is getting late. We really must be going. What is your answer, Sister Brown? This seems an odd time of the year to be putting in a new officer, but Sister Anderson is moving away, and besides it will give you a better chance to be in practice for next winter.”
Jerusha glanced about her living room once more as though she really felt that this was the last time that she would see it in such an immaculate state. She started to pick up her duster, then laughed and said, “I just can’t seem to keep my hands off of that thing. But I believe you are right. Perhaps a little personal tithing is just what I need. You say that meeting begins at two o’clock? I’ll be there.”