I went with my family to the Ogden Temple Open House today. We woke everyone up early, and they got ready quickly, for which I was grateful. We thwarted a potentially epic back seat car battle with Harry Potter recordings, and arrived only twenty minutes late for our appointment at 8:15, which is pretty darn good for my perpetually tardy clan. And I thought, as we drove, for this morning at least we did it. We got everyone in our family to the temple together.
When I sing “I Love to See the Temple,” I believe it. I love to see the temple. I love pointing out the temples as we drive along I-15. I see the temple and I feel lifted, reminded of my covenants and the Lord’s grace by the very sight of each building. I am grateful for the increase in temple building so my kids can have a chance to attend the open house before the temple is dedicated.
The line for the pre-tour movie moved quickly, but in the movie itself my 18-month-old was wiggly. I played with him and bounced him and did everything I could think of to keep him from wiggling. The images of temples and words of prophets flowed past me; I couldn’t really focus. But a line from Elder Holland caught my attention: that if we are in heaven without our families, it isn’t really heaven.
That feels true to me. It feels right. There is a deep sweetness I have experienced only in the temple, and only when there with family, a flavor of the Spirit I have never had elsewhere or under different circumstances. I felt it when I attended the Mount Timpanogos Temple dedication with my family just before my mission, when I was sealed to my husband, when I did initiatory for some family names (family names for the very first time!) with my mother and sisters.
I read an excellent post by annegb at Mormon Mentality some time ago. Go take a second to read it-it’s not long-and then come back here. She tells the story of deciding to have her parents’ temple work done and being sealed to them, and I will quote her last two lines:
Guys, temple work is for real. Yes, our church has warts, but we are on the right track when we seal families. I don’t understand it, but I know it’s true. I can’t say that about a lot of things, I say “I believe” which is just fine. This, I know.
The Ogden Temple is for real, too. As we entered the temple I wanted the flow of traffic to be slower, more contemplative. I wanted to soak it all in: the chandeliers, the stained glass, the art. There was a painting of a white-clad black woman kneeling in prayer that I could have stared at for hours, and a First Vision painting I had never seen before. But the line moved quickly, and every time I paused to show my three-year-old the pictures of Jesus, I got behind and had to catch up with my older kids. I wanted my little one to look, to see, to feel something besides the need to keep walking so that we didn’t get behind. I wanted that for my older children too, but I know that with them it’s better to let them decide what they focus on.
A volunteer in a cowboy hat took a picture of us sitting by the fountain, with the temple as background. Every single one of my children is squinting into the sun, blinded by the light.
There are a lot of lessons from this day: how easy it is to walk quickly past the sacred, how hard it is to stop and look and witness it, how difficult it can be to see light clearly when the brightness hurts.
But the thing I want to remember most of all is that we got there. We were there, together, bickering and lateness and wiggly toddler and all, and whatever challenges are ahead for my family, this fact is true. I hope that a taste of the Spirit there will be sweet enough to my children that they want to return. Over and over, to return.
Have you been to a temple open house recently? What has helped you prepare your children and family for this experience, and remember it better? Or tell me about some moment you had with your kids where you were able to see past the challenges and feel the sweetness of it.