Last week I let the first anniversary of this blog pass without notice. I’ll not let a far worthier milestone also go ignored: today marks ten years since my endowment.
I’ve loved studying the endowment in the intervening decade, repeatedly revisiting the endowment itself and spiritually reverent texts about it that I’ve read both before and after my own endowment, my favorite being Hugh Nibley’s “What Is A Temple?”
Sometimes we go through dry periods where nothing significantly new comes up–no major new relationship, or life event achieved, or song heard or movie seen…or religious height experienced–and we might despair that no such new vistas will be on the horizon at all. I once felt that way about my gospel study, and was thus doubly surprised when I came across John Welch’s “The Sermon at the Temple and The Sermon on the Mount.” Where many other scholars have only seen in Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount a random collection of ethical sayings, Welch sees 48 specific points, in order, correlating it with the LDS Endowment. It was an earth-shattering observation, and has profoundly improved my temple worship ever since.
Though I’ve been blessed with my share of insights and impressions in the temple, the most powerful experience that comes to memory is the most generic: once, several years ago, I was meditating in the Celestial Room with no certain question in mind, only seeking a vague light and direction, and was very strongly given an idea which I mentally put into these words: “You’re doing OK in life, but you can do a lot better, you’re capable of a lot more. It’s time to kick it up a notch and raise the bar on yourself.” Certainly those are my words, not the Spirit’s, but I remember those phrases being in my mind at the time, especially “raise the bar.” I’ve had my hills and valleys since then, but I hope that overall I’ve moved in the right direction.
The temple has given me several phrases that I’ve committed to heart, which offer me some of the clearest strength and guidance in all of scripture. I’ve also enjoyed going to the temple with themes in mind, about which I look for advice and teachings in the endowment. Two from which I’ve benefited richly are humility and ministering. Others, such as marriage and parenting, have only offered me little insight so far, but what’s there is powerful.
I first liked the thought that temple worship is simple, almost impersonal and passive, but I’ve come to see that mindset as immature. In reality, temple work is mentally and spiritually strenuous, participatory to the point of being emotionally intimate, and is designed to resonate with people at a basic, universal place that could be taken for granted at a superficial level but with sustained experience starts to reveal new dimensions in discipleship. It’s concrete and formulaic, yet interpretive enough to allow for ongoing challenges and learning from it. Truly, miraculous.
This January, my stake president challenged us to attend the temple more often this year, 40 times if possible. He explicitly tied this counsel to the blessings which we all need during these hard economic times. My wife and I are trying to live up to this, and have already seen blessings.
The temple is truly a holy place, the sanctuary and house of God in this world. I love it, and I know that its work and authority are true. In light of recent media events, as people might continue to wonder why Mormons are so intent on keeping people out of their temples, I prefer to see it in light of our overall mission to preach the gospel to all the world and work with each other to become more Christlike: we’re not trying to keep anybody out, we’re trying to get everybody in.