Friday, March 13, 2009

Mormon Temples - Places of Light

Last week we took Eliza to the Draper Temple Open House (Draper is on the south end of the Salt Lake Valley). This new LDS temple sits along the eastern benches of the Wasatch Range just above I-15. Before a temple is dedicated it is open to the public for viewing.

When I was in high school we kept our horses at a ranch just one mile from where the new temple now sits. The summer between my sophomore and junior year, I saddled up in those stables nearly every day and headed out on my own into the undeveloped hills and gaps of Corner Canyon. I would race Lacy (our palomino) along the middle ridge as fast as we could go. Those times were formative and very memorable for me - the solace, wildlife, the tiny creeks and patches of forest - all there for my exploring. Trails and views of the valley from Potato Hill and the upper ridges were ones I came to know well. I loved being alone with my horse, left to my own thoughts and the whisperings of the wind.

I had not returned to this area since moving to DC. I heard from family they had torn down Blue Sky Ranch (where we kept our horses) and the hills were rampantly spawning large homes and communities with little or no yard - packed together - as part of the huge housing escalation. As we drove up to the temple, we traveled roads that didn't exist when I was there last. We flew past enormous homes (many sitting empty with "For Sale" signs) that scandalized the fields I felt were my own. It was like traveling into a new world with an oddly familiar background. Although disturbing in some ways, in another, it was comforting, to see a "Temple of the Lord" now standing in a place already holy to me.

Months ago I read an article about a well known LDS philosopher's new book on temples (Truman Madsen). Writer, Jerry Johnston, recounts his experience of trying to teach a children's church class about temples. He describes it like this.

"I told them getting to heaven was a long trip. Sometimes we need a nice place to go during the journey. The temple is like a spiritual hotel. It is where we can rest. It is clean and filled with light." At the end of his lesson he told them that in the temple people feel clean on the outside and filled with light on the inside. "They will, in effect, be tiny temples inside another temple" he explained to the children. Johnston reflects, "I'm not sure they fully understood what I was trying to say. I'm not sure I fully understood. As for Truman Madsen, I have a feeling he'd probably say,'That's OK. Who among us ever fully does?'" (Jerry Johnston, Mormon Times).

Click here to read entire article. It was a great analogy for temples and why we worship there.

I also noticed today that the LDS Church has posted a 3 minute video on their website in response to HBO's Big Love depiction (more appropriately described as distortion) of certain LDS Temple ceremonies. The Church's written response is also powerful - respectable, charitable, and undeterred by others' attempts to defame what is deemed sacred and special to Mormons. To watch the video click here. It is called "Why Mormons Build Temples."

Our day at the temple with Eliza was a strong reminder to me of how much I treasure my family and that heaven without them, as one church leader said, would very simply, not be heaven. What I learn and experience in temples gives me confidence in God's plan for all of us. It comforts me with a knowledge that Doug and I can remain firmly connected to our children beyond death - into the joys of eternal living.

God's house reverberates
with silence,
filled with echoes
from the faithful
who have followed the light
to here, like a star.
White, we come clothed in white
to this place,
of radiant light.

with my heart as new,
may I, too,
be lighted?

-Truman Madsen

1 comment:

  1. Catherine, I love your writing. It is so eloquent and I find myself looking forward to each post.

    I think the video was lovely.


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