If you were as old as I am, you might remember back in the day when they used to have a Relief Society lesson called Cultural Refinement. It was taught once a month and was rotated with the other categories: Spiritual Living, Mother Education/Social Relations and Homemaking,
I enjoyed all of the lessons and took my turn as a Relief Society teacher from time to time.
The Cultural Refinement lesson was unusual and we don't have anything like that now in Relief Society.
It covered a variety of subjects from art to poetry and literature. I liked to look through the manual because it had examples of art and sometimes pictures of the handiwork of craftspeople from different countries and cultures. I grew up in southern Utah, Idaho and a tiny town in New Mexico so I was not well-traveled nor had I been exposed to a wide variety of art and literature; for me these lessons of Art History and Literature were a window on the world that was out there beyond my little world.
One lesson in particular I remember from the time when I was a newlywed and Andy and I were living in the Chicken Coop in Provo. Our Cultural Refinement teacher was an English Literature major at BYU so I loved her insights into the lessons--we discussed Le Miserable and I remember how she pronounced Jean Valjean with a french accent. But the lesson I am referring to here was about a simple poem:
"If, of thy mortal goods, thou art bereft,
And from thy slender store two loaves
alone to thee are left,
Sell one and from the dole,
Buy hyacinths to feed the soul."
13th Century Persian Poet
Our discussion was about the human need for some touch of beauty. And I thought of how merciful the Lord is to have given us an earth with an amazing variety of beautiful creations. From the time I was a little child, I have always thanked Heavenly Father daily for His beautiful creations that I get to enjoy. How blessed we are to pass our time here with beautiful plants, birds, animals even insects--each different in different parts of the country and the world. So, as the teacher led the discussion, the poem imprinted itself in my mind. At that time, we were definitely bereft of worldly goods--our slender store had but one loaf. So I could not buy hyacinths but I could still feed my soul with the beauty of nature out and around Provo. Since that time, this poem runs through my head when I am at the grocery store and see a pretty bouquet or pot of flowers. This time of year, the mums are everywhere in all the varieties of Autumn colors.
So today at the Stop and Shop I bought mums to feed the soul.