Monday, April 3, 2017


Ellie took a paper bag and turned it into me
Except it is more beautiful than I suppose to be.
The lady on the sack is long and lean, and has no belly!
(I think that everyone on earth should have a friend like Ellie.)
I’m standing at a microphone in full length rainbow gown
I’m colorful and smiling on a thing that once was brown.
And if you put your hand up in the bag I’ll sing for you
I sound an awful lot like Cori Connors when I do.
In the flap she wrote a note and sealed it with a heart
This is what can turn a bag into a work of art
Though Ellie’s only six years old, she’s thoughtful and she’s wise
 And one day I will learn to see myself through Ellie’s eyes

Ellie sits in Primary with the rest of her class. Like all of the Manwaring kids she generally knows the answer to every question, but she is always patient and raises her hand and does not yell it out like some kids do. She is charming and brilliant and kind and tender hearted. I sit over near her during sharing time, waiting for my turn to teach them songs. The other day I noticed she looked a little sad so I scooted up next to her, asking if something was wrong. She burst into tears, leaning her head over on my shoulder.
“Someone went through my scripture bag and spread everything out on the ground and no one would admit that they did it.”
I curled my arms around her and let her feel for a minute, then I asked if that made her feel like someone hurt her and not her bag. She nodded as her tears dampened my dress. “Why would someone do that?”
Ellie’s little heart is still in that pure place, where she cannot even imagine that humans can be hurtful without cause. I suspected that the larger ache was the thought that someone in her own class would be hurtful toward her, toward anyone, really. I ached for the wounding of the natural trust mechanism she got by being placed in her loving family. I ached to think about pure soft and tender feet having to learn to walk in the desert we call life. I wanted to just cradle her and tell her to stay right where she was and not to venture out, but in the same breath I knew that was not her destiny, nor the destiny of any of us who are blessed with healthy human capacity.
The back of Ellie's bag
has a secret code message
you need a mirror to read.
Ellie is a unique soul. For her birthday last year all she asked for was a Chemistry set. What five-year-old even knows what a chemistry set is? She comes to brilliance genetically, her parents being blessed in both the right and the left brains - the well-bred daughter of an artist and an PhD. engineer. Her brothers and little sister get to swim in the same amazing gene pool, and I can’t wait to see what comes of all of them.
For my birthday a few weeks ago Ellie and her brother Will came over to wish me happy birthday. They brought a plate of cookies. As I sat visiting with them their mother, Emily, ran to the door to bring Ellie’s paper bag puppet card, my great treasure! The sweet punctuation to the beautiful card and sentiment was when Emily told me that Ellie was singing Choose the Right while she made the card. I had been teaching the kids that song in Primary. I thought back to when I was a kid, sitting in Primary in our small branch in Pittsburgh PA. Emma Lou Patton was our chorister. I remember being mesmerized by the motion of her underarms flapping as she led us through the songs I still sing when I am coloring, or showering, or digging in the garden. Sister Patton gave a gift beyond measure in the songs she taught us. To think that my Ellie will sing the gospel, maybe even when she is old, through songs I got to teach her…well, that is joy beyond compare. Thank you for the gift, Ellie. I will treasure it always!
Ellie as a donkey  in our
neighborhood Nativity pageant.


  1. The Manwarings are my heroes! Such a lovely family!

  2. Ellie loves you! We all love you. Thank you for this--I will treasure it. xx

  3. How lucky these kids are to have you lead them each week. You preach the gospel through music and lyric. You help the kids understand the deeper meaning and not just to sing the words
    And how lucky we are to have the Manwaring's as friends!

  4. I wanna be in Primary with you guys!! Can I sit by Ellie too? What a love !