I once told a dear friend about temples and mentioned there was one in Washington D.C. She responded, “Oh, you mean the Land of Oz?” We had a good laugh over this, as would anyone who has experienced coming around the Beltway and seeing the temple unfolding as if by magic out of the trees.
I don’t mean to say that the temple is really like the Land of Oz, except that every time I go I know I will be greeted by a host of people who are delighted that I came at all.
All light-heartedness aside, I find that the longer I live as a temple-attending Mormon, the harder it is to casually speak of what my temple worship means to me. I know that I am one of millions of adult members of the LDS church who decide seek entrance to the temple and receive blessings from God, but in some ways my endowment feels incredibly personal.
As in life, my temple attendance and worship has had its seasons: the season of confusion, of irritation, of apathy, of crisis, of salvation. All seasons had threads of salvation, as we believe that our work in the temple is offering ordinances to people who have passed away, but I feel like only recently have I been attending the temple for my own salvation.
I heard the testimony of a woman this afternoon who described her “crooked path” in life that led her back to the church after nearly 40 years of inactivity and into a marriage that will be solemnized in the temple very soon. I couldn’t help but weep to hear her story because she is going into the House of the Lord for the first time with her hands eagerly outstretched to receive those blessings. I did not go to the temple as a young adult with that same eagerness, but I do so now.
“Hosanna” is the watchword of the current season of my life. As a kid I heard the word many times in its context of praise but as an adult, its original meaning has taken root in my heart: “Please save us.” I have finally experienced what it is like to go to the House of the Lord with a troubled mind, a sick body, a broken heart, an empty cup waiting to be filled. I went with my hands outstretched, pleading for peace and a respite from illness and sorrow, and the Lord lifted my burdens both physically and emotionally.
Since I am still in the Hosanna season of my life, I cannot casually sum up what the temple means to me. It is the impetus to my involvement in the LDS church on every level. It is the sacred space my soul needs to stretch and grow. It is everything to me.