Friday, June 1, 2012

The Cornerstone

As I was sitting at the kitchen table this morning doing some office work for our Visitors' Centre, I glanced out the window at the temple across the way and was overwhelmed with gratitude for that magnificent building. It is a view that we have almost begun to take for granted now that we have been living on the temple grounds for several months. The London Temple is within our range of sight nearly every waking hour of the day, whether we are in the Visitors' Centre or in our flat or running errands to the mission office or to the Accommodation Centre. In the early mornings, I walk the 32 acres here (well, part of it) with a friend and we see the temple and it's beautiful grounds from every angle. Don's taken up some gardening around our building, too, so he's out working in the shadow of the temple early in the morning. It's the first thing we see first thing in the morning and last thing we see at night. We love it!

My favorite photo of the London Temple

Today, though, looking out the window at the temple, my mind is wandering back in time. It's our 45th wedding anniversary tomorrow and, as we do most years, we are planning to attend a temple session as part of our celebration. So, today, as I contemplate going inside tomorrow, I'm also thinking back on our wedding day at the Los Angeles Temple, and all the years that we have attended the temple together since then. A lot of memories - and perspective. The temple has played a profound part in our marriage over the years. Words cannot express the gratitude I have for the blessings of the temple in our life together. That's something I will never take for granted.

Temples have played an important part in the history of the world. Temples were spoken of in both the Old and New Testaments. Temples are a place of communication between God and man. Temples are a place where heaven meets earth. They are a place of learning. And they are a place for binding covenants that will last through the eternities. Temples are some of the most sacred real estate on the earth.

Me, age 8
My first memory of a temple was when I was 8 years old, the year before the Los Angeles Temple was dedicated. It was built just 20 minutes from where I grew up. I remember walking through that gigantic, stately building when it was under construction. My Grandpa Dana was a building construction supervisor for the Church, and although he didn't work on the L.A. Temple, he got to walk through during its construction, and he took our family along. I could feel the reverence my Grandpa had as we walked around the exposed wood frame and stepped over two-by-fours. I still remember the feelings of respect and awe I had that day.

As I grew up, I occasionally visited the temple with family or friends to walk around the grounds. There was a peaceful feeling there, even outside in the gardens, that I loved. I often walked up to the door of the temple and stood there and pondered what it would be like to go inside. When I was 12, I got to go with a group of girls from my ward to perform baptisms. I felt privileged.

Then, on June 2, 1967, Don and I walked into the L.A. Temple together, having made a commitment early in our relationship that that was where we would one day be married. With a few family and friends in attendance, we knelt across the altar from each other and were sealed as husband and wife for time and all eternity. Such a long time ago... but I can recall that moment as if it was yesterday. I remember trying to understand the significance of the covenants we were making with God and each other. We had no idea where our life together would lead. Looking back, that's probably a good thing! And like every young couple starting out, we walked out of the temple that day hand-in-hand with blind faith, big hopes and dreams, and a little naivete.

Now, here we are in London, living so close to the temple we can almost reach out and touch it from our flat. For the next two years we are living on holy ground. Who would have ever imagined that? Not me!

A lot of temples have played a part in our forty-five year history. We've visited 37 of the 137 temples currently in operation. We've served as ordinance workers in two of them (something we loved and hope to do again). We've had three of our children sealed to us in two different temples:  Provo and Salt Lake (two of the sweetest days of our lives). We've witnessed our daughters' and sons-in-laws' joyous sealings in the Jordan River, Draper and Mt. Timpanogos  temples. Sacred memories.

Jordan River Temple
Life has been good to us, and to a large degree we owe that to the part the temple has played in our lives. In all those years, there have not been very many months when we have not attended the temple at least once. It's been a steadying force in our lives. We've gone there in times of joy and in times of sadness. We've gone there in search of answers to life's trials. We've gone there in gratitude.  We've gone there for healing. We've gone there for peace and solace and respite from the daily grind. Occasionally, we've even gone there just to sit in the parking lot and talk through a problem. Always we have come away with new perspective, new energy, new courage, new faith, new resolve, and a little more peace. It's a practice that has blessed our lives immeasurably.

Earlier today our sister missionaries were teaching an older man in the Visitors' Centre. He has lived near the London Temple for many years but never knew anything about it. He joined the Church about a month ago and now he is preparing to enter the temple for the first time. This morning, he said, "For 30 years, it [the temple] always attracted my attention. There is a different feeling around the temple. Every time I drove past the gates I always had to look in at the temple, even though I knew nothing about the Church or what the building was for. I don't know quite what it was, but obviously, now, I think that was all leading up to this [his conversion]."

The temple is a place where we can receive instruction, inspiration, peace, comfort, help, healing, and where  families can be bound for eternity.

President Jeffrey Holland once said, "I don't know how to speak about heaven without my wife and children. It would not be heaven to me."  I want to be with Don and our family forever. Today, I'm grateful for that day 45 years ago when we made the choice to start our marriage in the temple.     ~Pat~

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