A Visit to a Mormon Temple Open House
She asked me in a very hushed, almost unbelieving, voice:
“Does everyone always whisper like this?”
My short whisper back was meant to be warm and friendly. “Always. And when it opens normally, we wear all white.” She smiled.
I am Mormon. And today I returned to my Boise Temple, newly opened, and it reminded me just why I am. The Boise Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often mistakenly called the “Mormon Church”) has been newly renovated and is open for free general public tours before it is re-dedicated in November 2012.
The Church of Jesus Christ invites all to receive the temple blessings eventually, but it is a rare glance for a person not of the LDS or Mormon faith. Once a temple is dedicated, attendance is for faithful church members only. This is unlike regular church services and other meetings which are open to all church members and visitors.
Naturally, a lot of people in the Boise area have been curious and have attended in droves. Today, I took a friend with me who is not of my faith. We had only ever lightly made ‘petit saut’ moves in the ways of religion in our conversations but I thought she might be interested. She was.
Growing up with a Mormon temple 15 minutes away from your door can make you a little naïve about the reality of not having one instantly accessible any time you might want it. Though we have been abundantly blessed to be able to attend both as close as Twin Falls and Idaho Falls; the saints in the Treasure Valley have felt the absence of OUR temple keenly.
Upon entering the Mormon temple, the first thing different I noticed was the higher ceilings. The re-model has such fine craftsmanship put into it. I deeply appreciated every carefully hung painting, every fine hand crafted piece of furniture – and as one person of non-Mormon faith in my tour group pointed out, just for example, – the gorgeous hand painted filigree etching along the ceilings in one of the rooms.
My friend noticed my awe in one certain place. “
Are you OK?” She asked, as I started to get a little bit choked up.
We had entered the baptistery.
It was here that I had first in my life entered a temple at age 12. We learn in my church that we do this in similitude of Jesus Christ entering the Temple at that age himself.
Today, I was in that newly renovated baptistery, which was glowing from the vivid colors reflecting through stained glass. A fan of art, I was thrilled to see the hand painted murals on the back wall.
Like many, I’m sure; I felt it was my temple. My Mormon temple – where I entered at age 12, married at age 24 and now I finally have back. I realized what a lucky girl I am.
One room that really impressed my particular tour group was the bridal room, where new brides are pampered as they change from street clothes into their wedding attire.
To my understanding almost all tours at the Boise Temple Open House are silent tours, due to the overwhelming throng of visitors. I must have come at a good time, because we did have some time at points for the tour guide to mention some things.
My group seemed to be almost exclusively non-Mormon. I think word somehow whispered its way down the line and two ladies asked if I had got ready for my wedding there. I couldn’t help but grin wide remembering the sumptuous beauty of room. Simply meant for a bride to get dressed for her wedding day – it is one of the most ornate in the temple, in my opinion. It made me feel like a queen.
The friend I brought also appreciated the temple’s overall beauty, and was surprised to find out that the members themselves clean it and that shifts can often fill up quickly.
I’ve never done it myself, but my Mom has. I told her my Mom loves to clean the temple, because it is a unique experience to be able to offer her time for something she is grateful for and also for a chance to be in the temple when few people are there. Many have had spiritual experiences while cleaning the temple.
Building temples are collaborative things. Mormon saints were impoverished when they built the first temple of this generation in Kirtland, Ohio, in the 1830’s. The Latter-day Saint women sacrificed what for most of them was their only valuable possession – family china – and shattered them to mix with cement for a beautiful gleaming finish on the temple. The saints were forced by violent mobs to abandon that temple 5 years later.
I pulled into the parking lot following the driving directions on my printed reservation. Ushers greeted me with huge smiles at every single point. I rolled down my window and they clearly explained where to go and what to do. I know I’m Mormon, but I hadn’t been to the Open House yet, so I didn’t know where to go. Every single visitor received this treatment.
Every detail had been carefully planned and carried out by volunteers. From the non-religious, carpet-saving shoe cover station volunteers, to the wheelchair assistants, translators and helpers, standing on every corner directing me where to go.
Thousands and thousands of people are being moved through the Boise Temple Open House every day, and as far as I can see, it’s being done really well, 100% by volunteers giving up major blocks of their time and more importantly, they look beyond genuinely happy to do it.
Whatever some may suggest about Mormonism – it again became clear to me today – we do what we do in the Church of Jesus Christ because of our common belief in our Savior and love for God.
That is what the Temple teaches and that is why I go to worship there. I have looked forward to that regular worship since I first crossed the threshold at age 12.
The outward spire on the front of the Boise temple is representative of what the temple is in the lives of Latter day-saint members. The Temple is a very real, very abiding beacon of hope and guide for the future.
At the end of the tour we entered what is called the Celestial Room.
This room represents the peace that is available through Heavenly Father and his son, Jesus Christ.
Following instruction to do so, everyone was silent and seemed thoughtful. The ushers in almost silent whispers had let all the visitors know they could sit if they liked, but none chose to do so.
Before we came into the temple, we were all encouraged to find God in our own way. Standing in the Celestial Room and looking around, I felt that maybe everyone in the Celestial Room around me was doing just that.
This article was written by Livi Whitaker, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.