“When we work together in love and unity, we can expect Heaven’s help.”

art by Malory Fiso

The river was dangerous and the weather was stifling as Joseph and some elders traveled down the Mississippi River coming back from Independence.

Some elders were quick to place blame and tensions soon ran high.

A few men were so angry with the situation that they refused to paddle. 

Consequently, during a particularly dangerous river bend, the boat nearly tipped and Joseph called it quits for the day.

This account from Saints volume 1 made me think of another rowing story I heard recently at conference:

A team of rowers who were the underdogs going into the 1936 Olympic race.

But despite the odds, when they got on the water for the race, something magical happened. In rowing they call it “swing.”

Sharon Eubank described swing in one of her talks. She stated, 

“Rowers must rein in their fierce independence and at the same time hold true to their individual capabilities.

“Races are not won by clones.

Good crews are good blends […] if they are to row well together, each must adjust to the needs and capabilities of the others—the shorter-armed person reaching a little farther, the longer-armed person pulling in just a bit.

“Differences can be turned to advantage instead of disadvantage. Only then will it feel as if the boat is moving on its own.”

Unity isn’t that we think and act the same. It’s that we use our individual talents together for the same end goal.

Swing isn’t easy. I am sure it took this team hundreds upon hundreds of hours of practice.

But the key was, they never put down the paddle and they kept their end goal in mind.

In our families, ward, communities, we too must keep practicing. 

Looking at differences of those in our boat as advantages. 

And adjusting to the needs of those around us.

Mistakes will be made.

But we need each other—mistakes and all.

The beautiful thing is that, as the Lord said to the early Saints on the bank of the Mississippi, we can repent and again become one (D&C 61:8)

Because, despite the hard, “when we work together in love and unity, we can expect Heaven’s help.” Linda K Burton

Leave space for grace.

Keep your eyes on the destination.

And don’t put down the paddle.

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