Thursday Grammy was kind enough to babysit the children while Tony and I drove the two hours to the Los Angeles Temple. While the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has thousands of church buildings and congregations around the world, temples are still rare, relatively speaking. There are 135 temples currently operating, spread over every inhabited continent. Tony and I are kind of temple junkies. We have a page on our family website to keep track of the temples we’ve visited around the world. We were delighted to be in Italy last year when ground was broken for the new Rome Temple.
It is a thrill for us each April and October, when new temples are announced at the Church’s General Conference. Just this month, in fact, the Prophet announced that temples will be built in, among other places, Paris, France and Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Members of the Church who live in countries without temples (including us at times) often travel for long distances to be able to attend the temple even occasionally. For us, it has been over a year and a half since we lived in a country with a temple, so I was very excited to go.
And it was beautiful. Seriously beautiful. Whenever my husband and I go to the temple together, I remember the day we were married. It is a solemn and breathtaking experience to promise each other and God that you will stay together forever. Sometimes in the day-to-day rush of life, I forget the feeling of falling in love, and miss the moments to cherish the man who means more to me than anything else in the world. When I go to the temple, I remember that my marriage is something holy and infinitely precious; a gift given to me and my husband by God, and meant to last not just for a a few dozen years, but through all the ages of incomprehensible eternity.
The language of symbol and ritual feeds my soul in the temple as the weekly ritual of bread and water feeds my soul each Sunday at church. I love to be reminded of the grand story of the creation of the world; a story that has been told in so many variations by so many people in so many languages for thousands of years. Reliving that story makes me feel kin to the whole human family, and strengthens my resolve to make my corner of the earth a little brighter and better.
I remember visiting an ancient temple in Egypt. Our guide told us that the temple was seen as the umbilicus of the world; the first bit of ground that rose out of the primordial sea. Symbolically, and sometimes literally, the temple is a place where heaven touches earth. Everything inside is beautiful, pristine, and somehow quieting. It feels like a place apart, a small oasis of calm and peace amid the banality, busyness, and sometimes the tragedy of life.
Maybe that’s why I get so excited whenever a new temple is announced somewhere in the world. Because anywhere I find a temple is a city of angels to me.