Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Going to the Temple

As I shared recently, I've been thinking a lot about some churchy things lately. This month we had a trip up to Anchorage for a weekend, and since we were staying with friends I was able to arrange for my friend to watch the kids so that I could go to the temple.

I tried to go with an open mind, asking beforehand that I would find some clarity or answers on some of the things that have been on my mind. I do feel that I found some of that, and some of it is things I won't share it here. But there were several "aha" moments which I feel are entirely appropriate to share, because they don't divulge anything of the ceremonies.

Before I even entered the front doors, I noticed the windows above the door. There is etching in the glass of a circle within a square. That's a fairly common decorative motif (and appears in windows in several parts of this temple as well as carved in the stone), but that particular symbol struck me that day. It reminded me of the saying about being a "square peg in a round hole" (even though in this case the circle was inside the square hole). It felt like a little reminder from God that it's ok to be different from other people around me (in or out of the church). So long as I am honest with myself, and honest with my God, and doing my best, I don't have to be the same--or even try to be the same--as anyone else.  I can be different. I can be peculiar.
As soon as I stepped inside the front door, I saw a coatroom. There was a little sign that indicated that everyone should leave their coats and shoes in that front room. I have been to several other temples and none of them had such a room. Every Alaskan I know has a shoes-off policy though, it's just common sense in a place with snow half the year (and sand on the snow), and with mud during the other half! So it didn't surprise me that a building with white carpet would have a place near the door for leaving boots. Since the dressing room lockers are usually small, it's also nor surprise that they would offer a place for hanging bulky coats. However, I was not thinking about those things when I saw the sign. What came immediately to my mind was the verse from Exodus 3, where Moses sees the Lord in the burning bush, and as he begins to approach the Lord says "put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." I was struck by the appropriateness of removing our shoes at the door, of the symbolism of it, and I had a wistful moment of wishing that all temples had such coatrooms.

After I had gone inside, I asked directions to the women's dressing room. I had never been to the Anchorage temple before, and even though it is small, I figured I'd prefer to go directly in the correct direction! Someone pointed me down the hallway. I went down, and saw a door with a sign that indicated it was a dressing room. I reached for the handle, which was a lever style like the one in this picture. It wouldn't move. I tried it a couple of times and still it would not budge. I wondered if perhaps this was a special dressing room (a handicapped-accessible one perhaps) and it was occupied and thus locked. So I went on down the hall to find the main dressing room. I saw three more doors before the hallway ended, but all were labeled, and none were dressing rooms. So I went back, but was still unable to open the door. So I went back out to the front, and found a temple worker, and told her that I thought the dressing room was locked. She smiled and said "no it's not" and led me back to it. She pushed on the door and it opened. The handle did not--could not--turn. The door did not latch, the handle was decorative more than functional (in that it was unnecessary). I felt foolish, but the temple worker assured me that newcomers made that same mistake regularly.
And the lesson I took away from that? There are often unlocked doors right in front of us. They will open with the gentlest nudge. However if we don't know the right way to open them, we will remain stuck outside. We may not even be able to tell that they are open, we may be convinced that they are locked to us. But they are not. Truth is there. Healing is there. Forgiveness is there. Peace is there. We can have these things if we will ask the right questions of the right people, and learn how to open the doors.

And ye shall receive
And ye shall find
And it shall be opened unto you


Michele said...

WOW! What a post! I got chills reading about the shoes... Wow!

Niki said...

I love that you got so much out of your visit to the temple. So many things that I never thought about and probably took for granted. If you ever want or need to share about other stuff I am here.

Mallory said...

What lovely lessons! Thanks for sharing them!

Elizabeth said...

The Palmyra temple also has a coatroom when you walk in...but suprisingly not a sign for shoes. I liked the bit about the door- there are often opportunities around us that we do not see.

Katrina said...

Those are some wonderful insights. Thanks for sharing! I'm so glad you could go to the temple again.

Destiny said...

Great post. Thanks for sharing.

Jena said...

Oakland has a coat room, but it's mostly used for dresses, tuxes, bouquets, and umbrellas, with only the occasional coat, and never shoes, that I've seen. You're right... you're very right. Interesting thing about Oakland: it does have a very long marble hallway upon first entering. There used to be a rug, but it has been removed and heels are--to say the least--conspicuously loud. Embarrassingly loud. I'm pretty sure no one ever thinks to remove their shoes and leave them at the door, anymore. The marriage waiting room for guests is now further inside the temple so even they no longer remove their shoes soon after entering. Wouldn't it be nice if they would. :)

Love this post all around.

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