Saturday, May 23, 2009

Three Thoughts: Familial Blessings of the Temple

The following are some thoughts I scribbled down after my mother asked me, in preparation for her talk, how I felt my family had been blessed by the temple.

He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

1) Anciently, and even in the earlier part of this dispensation, temples were oriented spatially along the cardinal directions. (For instance, the first cornerstone laid was often at the South East corner, because this was the point of greatest light.) We can learn from archaeology that many early temples in pagan systems were actually elaborate heavenly observatories, oriented according the movements of the sun and the stars. In short, temples were a point where it was possible to get one's bearings within the universe to a high degree of precision. They represented a point of sacred space in which all of space could be brought into order.

The same is true for us today. The temple is the only place I know of where what is inside is larger than everything outside. It is a microcosm of the universe and of the plan of salvation which shows us where we truly are, and where we need to go. By entering the temple, we step –– in a way –– out of space and time. As we keep our covenants when we leave the temple, we carry with us both physical and mental reminders. These, if we are valiant, can make all space and time sacred for us.

2) In the temple, we are given a foretaste of things to come. Just as the emblems of the sacrament are in some ways a promise and a preparation for partaking of the fruit of the tree of life, the temple can offer hope in the future blessings the Lord has for us. At the same time, we begin to feel within holy walls a bittersweet kind of homesickness. Passing into the Celestial Room, amid all the beauty, the sweet peace of the Spirit, and the loving faces of family members, we must recognize that our Father is not present in His fullness. We yearn more deeply for our real Home, and we seek more truly for those we love to come with us. Just as the temple can show us the arrangement and order of the universe, this ache and longing we feel can draw us to True North.

3) The Atonement of Jesus Christ is available for us within the House of the Lord. There, the wells of living water are deep. We are taught, as Paul instructs us in Hebrews, that He opened a way for us through His rent flesh (Hebrews 10:20). Thus, we may only approach the Father through Christ and His sacrifice. Sacred vestments, the veil, even the sealing power exercised at holy altars –– these are all facets of the Atonement we seek to make us whole.

We often underestimate the true scope of Christ's healing power, and what He intends for us. In the Temple, we may have clearer glimpses of what this all means. Too sacred to speak of in anything but generalities, we may say that the ultimate expression of the Atonement possible in mortality is had only within those dedicated precincts. As the prodigal could only know how well he was loved by returning home –– embraced, blessed, and clothed by his father in an act of immeasurable mercy –– so we can only know our Father truly as we come running to Him on the road Home: that road always passes through the temple, where we will feel His arms about us, we will be nourished by the Lamb slain for our sake, and we will hear Him whisper of a love stretched "wide as eternity" (Moses 7:41).

1 comment:

Shelli said...

Thank you, Nick.