25 August, 2009

Gentlemen, when I take an honest look at my life, I realize I've never not been a hippie.

Two days ago, I attended one of the many dedicatory sessions of the Oquirrh (pronounced oak-er) Mountain Temple, which is pictured above. Before the session began, and while I was at my most alert, they ran a continuous slideshow of shots of the temple's interior, which is simple and incredibly lovely. I realized then that my absolute favorite place to be, hands down, is in the temple. Which I take to mean that despite my innumerable weaknesses and flaws, I must be doing SOMETHING right.

This is not the topic of my post.

Ever since the dedication of the Kirtland Temple in way long time many years ago, the following song has been sung when a new temple is built. I'm actually not positive that the song has been sung at every temple dedication ever, but I have been to four and it was sung at all of those. Called the Hosanna Anthem, its lyrics are reproduced below.

The House of the Lord is completed!

The House of the Lord is completed!

May our offering by Him be accepted.

May our offering by Him be accepted.

Amen. Amen.

Rejoice, O ye saints whose patient faith and labor

Have reared this house wherein today ye stand.

Rejoice ye blessed departed saintly spirits!

Behold your temple finished crowns the land!

Rejoice ye souls awaiting your redemption!.

The work speeds on to set the captive free.

Thanks be to God for His eternal mercies!

Thanks be to God for endless liberty.

Nice, huh? I've never really paid attention to these words before. However, on Sunday a particular phrase in this song stuck out to me. The one in bold: "Rejoice, O ye saints whose patient faith and labor/ have reared this house wherein today ye stand."

Back in the early days of the Church, every member of the Church was personally involved in the construction of the temple. Men donated a day or two out of every work week to do construction or mine stone. Women spent hours preparing meals for workers, sewing curtains and temple clothing, and crushing china for various purposes (This is off the cuff, I haven't done any research ... but it sounds right). Anyway, when they talk about their patient faith and labor culminating in the completion of the temple, that actually MEANT something for them. Everyone in Kirtland had a literal hand in the building of that building, which certainly must have made it all the more significant for them personally.

By contrast, I did not make it to the open house of the Oquirrh Mountain Temple. Before the dedicatory session, I didn't even know what it looked like. It was built about a half an hour from my house, and my personal involvement therein was essentially nil. And thus, I felt a peace and happiness about the completion of the temple and its existence, but no real relationship to it--at least, not to the building itself.

Granted, there are a lot a lot of Mormons in Utah Valley (Which is why the new temple was built in the first place), but how many of us can say we had any involvement in the building process whatsoever? The folks at the groundbreaking ceremony, and those who attended the filling of the cornerstone. Which are only publicity stunts nowadays. I hear that after everyone has a stab at laying the cement during the cornerstone photo op, they remove it and do it over so it will look nicer. This whole paradigm shift makes me long for the days when people had a stronger connection to the buildings they lived, worked and worshiped in. The physicality of labor and non-monetary investment seems to me a greater reason to shout Hosanna than a ten-dollar donation to a temple building fund.

Conversely, today I volunteered for a few hours with Habitat for Humanity. We were clearing a lot for building, which was both a nice workout and an excellent throwback to Pioneer Times (I'm assuming again, I wasn't there). Being involved in the process of building a house was good for my soul. It made me want to do a really good job, even though I was just clearing brush. I feel that way about a lot of things in my life: that if I have a tangible, kinesthetic relationship with something in my life, that relationship is much more meaningful. It's true about my food: when I eat something from our garden, I relish (bad pun?) the connection I feel with the plants I've been tending for however many months. Sometimes I even get a little bit nostalgic: "Oh, I remember when you were just a wittle bitty seed..." For the past few weeks Pamela and I have been painting our dining and living rooms, and it it remarkable how much more connected I feel to this house now that a few hours of my life have been invested in it. The greater the physical connection you have with something, the greater the overall connection as well, it would seem.

This makes me want to build my own house. Like Harrison Ford.


Satoko said...

I have always thought it was amazing when people of LFP ward talked about "building" the meeting house. My Grandpa-in-law, for example, is one of the people who built that meeting house. I just can't imagine how meaningful and personal it must have been when it was actually completed, and they had a wonderful place for worship... We are so spoiled. I love your blog, by the way.

Gordon said...

So in New Mexico I visited La Hacienda de los Martinez, which consisted of a big adobe home/fort-like building built around 1800. And I had an intense desire to build my own adobe home/commune some day.

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