Despite the requirements clearly stated, Brigham reveals that 800 men arrived late in May without a fortnight’s provisions. He, himself, had come with a year’s supply for his entire family but had “fed it out,” sustaining those who had been unprepared and unwise.
But Brigham had learned his lessons well, and he knew whose servant he was. As he recorded more than once, he tried to act the part of a father to all. When he left thousands of Saints firmly established in Winter Quarters and prepared to lead the first group of pioneers to the valley that the Prophet Joseph had seen in vision, he was most certainly aware of the significance of what was taking place, and perhaps remembered this anniversary of his baptism and thought upon it.
He was not allowed to be the first to enter the valley. He came sick and weak, raising himself with difficulty upon one elbow and gazing down. Then, as he recorded in his journal, “the spirit of light rested upon me and hovered over the valley,” in confirmation and benediction.
It is our part to remember to do as well as to believe. Let our paths be marked by good works as well as good intentions. What have I grown into since I became a member of the kingdom? It is a question worth keeping uppermost in our minds — along with Brigham Youngs’s words to the early Saints and to us:
“No man will gain influence in this Kingdom, save what he gains by the influence and power of the Holy One that has called him to truth, holiness, and virtue. That is all the influence I have, and I pray God that I may never have any different influence.”
We have been called with the same sacred calling. It is ours to labor and love so that truth, holiness and virtue mark our paths — and the day of our baptism is in every way a beginning.
Sources: "Brigham Young, an Inspiring Personal Biography," by Susan Evans McCloud, Covenant, 1996; "The Faithful Young Family: The Parents, Brothers and Sisters of Brigham," by Leonard J. Arrington and JoAnn Jolley, Ensign, Aug. 10, 1980; "Journal of Brigham: Brigham Young’s Own Story In His Own Words," compiled by Leland Nelson, Council Press, 1980; "Journal of Discourses," Volumes 3, 7, 8, 9; "The Life Story of Brigham Young," Susa Young Gates and Leah Eudora Dunford Widstoe, Macmillan Co., 1931.
Susan Evans McCloud is author of more than 40 books and has published screenplays, poetry and lyrics, including two songs in the LDS hymnbook. She has six children. She blogs at susanevansmccloud.blogspot.com.
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