I was a convert to the church at 25 (actually got baptised on my 25th birthday). In the short time that I was a full-fledged member of the church (2 years TBM), I fulfilled a handful callings, as many Mormons tend to do. But, just before being invited to take temple recommend classes, I confessed to breaking my vow of chastity (I was scared to death that it would come up during a visit with the bishopric and decided that it was best to out myself, first...make an end run around the Holy Spirit and all that...what a rube I was) and my path to the temple was put on hold while I was put to works of repentance for at least 6 months or until the bishopric felt that I was considered worthy by Heavenly Father (it was during this time, and giving the ward and the stake hours of free labor, that I grew weary of the church and its members and decided that I had repented enough and that I was tired of being treated like crap and just stopped going to church...stayed 2 more years, inactive, before sending in my letter). Because I left the church without ever making it to the temple, I never did get to see what the "sacred garments" looked like.
Of course, I have seen photos online and I have seen depictions in movies, but I have never seen them up-close and personal; put my hands on them.
I work in a laundromat where one of the services that we offer is a drop and fold service for people who don't want to or can't do their own laundry. Most clothing I see may be gross, but most are typical shirts, pants, and undies or bedclothes and comforters.
The other day I was noticing some shabby looking white shirts in a pile of laundry that I was folding and on the first two I noticed what looked like fixed tears, the way I fix rips on my fiance's shirts when he gets snags in them. After those first two, I looked closer at the markings and realized that I have my hands on real Mormon underwear. Later, I began folding the bottoms and couldn't help laughing to myself.
I was laughing because I remember that there was a time that I was willing to let the church belittle me and give up what little life I had to get to the temple and THIS was the undies I had to look forward to staring at, come bedtime?!? I was thinking that I had dodged a bullet by not having to wear or marry anyone who was forced to wear THE most unsexy underwear, evah! It finally allayed my curiosity and demystified the whole idea behind the garments, themselves.
I kept my thoughts to myself and I even thoughtfully folded them and packed them in an orderly fashion. I guess I'm now curious about the man who sent them to our store (he never came in, himself), did he no longer consider them sacred, is that why he allowed a non-member to see/launder/touch his garments? Maybe he felt that a stranger may not be familiar with or recognize them or their markings?
Of course, I will never know the answer to those questions, but maybe someone else, more knowledgeable can shed some light for the continually curious.
The garments aren't so scared that no lds person CAN'T see or wash them. Non-believers wouldn't get the symbols meanings. They are treated like regular underwear. The only time I was told to deface the markings was when they became too shabby to wear. Cutting the symbols out made them unspecial and they could be used as rags.
Thanks for your input. I had a garment wearing roommate when I first joined the church and she NEVER let me see her garments, either on her nor in her laundry. I assumed from this behavior that maybe they were so sacred as not be allowed to be seen by non-members and that is why I was kind of stunned to find them at my job.