Stripping off My Petticoat

by Liz Evans

In a morning session of General Conference in October of 1856, President Brigham Young issued a call to action. He had been informed that several companies of immigrants, on their way to Salt Lake City, were in trouble and in desperate need of assistance. All those within earshot were called to help — right then, at that very moment. Because, as President Young said, the matter “shall not wait until tomorrow, nor the next day.”

Members were asked to give what they could. Some bravely volunteered to make the journey to help those on the trail, while others offered up wagons, flour, mules, oxen, yokes, and blankets. A woman who was in attendance that day observed, “the sisters stripped off their petticoats, stockings, and everything they could spare, right there in the Tabernacle” to be added to the supplies headed to those in need.

As I have been watching the news and world events unfolding, my mind keeps trailing back to how I envision those early saints freely giving of what they had to help others join them in a place of sanctuary — enabling those in peril to enjoy the same peace and prosperity they were working to create for themselves and their posterity.

Today there are many who face peril just as real as what led the saints to action over 150 years ago — refugees, immigrants (both legal and non), the homeless, victims of hate crimes, minorities, those fighting discrimination, families struggling below the poverty level, and the list goes on.

Just as in 1856, not all of us can leave home for the trail, no matter how willing our hearts may be. But all of us can do something. And although our efforts may not all look the same, each gesture adds much-needed relief to the supply wagon.

What I may have to give is a phone call to my representative, an email to a congressman, or a postcard to a senator. Someone else might sponsor a refugee family or help an immigrant wade through paperwork to gain citizenship. All of us can, by example, help educate and build bridges by softening the hearts of others one at a time.

Each of us can lift where we stand. Each of us has something unique and powerful to offer in the rescue.  And offer it we must. For today, as in President Young’s time, these matters “shall not wait until tomorrow, nor the next day.” The time has come, and I, for one, am stripping off my petticoat.