My Perspective on the Temple Just Evolved a Little

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Curt Sunshine
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My Perspective on the Temple Just Evolved a Little

Post by Curt Sunshine » 06 Mar 2015, 07:07

I was set apart as an ordinance worker in the temple here in Bismarck last Friday, and I had my first shift there last night. I have been a restricted ordinance worker in the past (when I lived in Cincinnati and attended the Chicago temple - restricted to veil work only, since I only could make it once a month), but this is the first time I have been able to begin to learn how to administer and officiate in everything. I want to share some things that struck me last night - related mostly to perspective:

1) I didn't expect to have the experience I had, so I wasn't totally prepared for it. I was asked to be the second officiator in the endowment (or whatever else that might be called), mostly to watch the officiator closely and learn what he did - in order to be able to do it as soon as possible myself. It was the first time in my life I had sat at the front of the room. Being that second officiator is being, primarily, an observer not a full participant, in a real way, and three things impressed me deeply experiencing the endowment from that perspective:

a) In the very near future, I will be standing in front of a group of people seeking various things by attending - and I will be representing God and God's messenger to them. That hit me hard, and it made me pause and consider a few things about myself. That personal contemplation alone is an important thing, and I have come to believe over time that it is one of the most important things about the temple ordinances - NOT as a guilt-inducer, but simply as a way to separate from life and the hassles of "the world" and have time and quietude in which self-reflection and introspection are possible.

b) There was a couple who were receiving their own endowment, and it was wonderful to see their friends work so lovingly and patiently with them throughout the ordinance. It also was wonderful to see everyone else's faces as they watched that couple - full of smiles and support. I could see all of that from the front in a way that I have not been able to do in the past. I also had the chance to represent the Lord taking the man through the veil, and I found myself slowing down dramatically as I spoke with him. That realization hit me hard - that the Lord will slow down for each of us and work with us at the speed that is best for us.

c) This one might sound sacrilegious to some members, but watching the film from the very front of the room and from the side is fascinating. The extreme angle makes the entire thing appear "off" - almost like a fun house mirror. The size proportions, the facial expressions, even some of the coloring - everything changes radically in appearance. In a really strange way, I felt visually what some members feel emotionally - a weird kind of disconnect between what is expected and what is experienced and/or seen. I can't describe exactly what I experienced, but I am glad I experienced it - and I will find a way to share it in meetings I attend in the future.

2) Normally, I would have said the prayer during the endowment, but the coordinator didn't want to put that on me during my first shift. I appreciated that. However, in our short training meeting, one of the other new people asked if there were elements of the prayer that were required, since so many end up sounding so similar. The answer was an emphatic,
"No. Try to listen for the Spirit, but say whatever you feel should be said. This is a "real" prayer, not a memorized recitation. Just keep it relatively short and speak in small phrases, so the patrons aren't over-whelmed."


3) The emphasis in the training was on trying to do everything perfectly - in order to maximize the comfort of the patrons and not distract in any way from their experience. The focus was not on perfection in and of itself or for our own benefit but rather on helping others. It reminded me of advice to sports officials that they do their job best when nobody remembers them after the game. It was a really neat thing to hear.

4) I made one mistake in wording when the first patron came to the veil. I used one word that fit the general meaning that wasn't the word I was supposed to use. It couldn't be corrected, given the role I was playing, but it hit me that, ultimately, it didn't matter for that patron - that it's not about performance perfection but rather the intent of the heart - that my mistake in that role is understood, accepted and "forgiven" just like all the other mistakes I make in life. I got a strong feeling of peace that was . . . reassuring and uplifting.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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nibbler
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Re: My Perspective on the Temple Just Evolved a Little

Post by nibbler » 06 Mar 2015, 09:11

Thanks for sharing.

As I read your insights I was strongly reminded of the way I felt about the temple pre FC. Thanks for that.
The wound is the place where the light enters you.
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Curt Sunshine
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Re: My Perspective on the Temple Just Evolved a Little

Post by Curt Sunshine » 06 Mar 2015, 11:20

I found it interesting that not one single thing I mentioned is doctrinal in nature. There are a few doctrinal things I love about the temple, but my take-aways at this point in my life are not those things. It's different for me, in that way, than it is for many traditional, orthodox members.

I know it's hard to remove the doctrinal element, but I really don't go to learn doctrine. I go to experience fellowship and be part of a participatory play. I got to see that play from a different role, and it was a cool experience.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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West
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Re: My Perspective on the Temple Just Evolved a Little

Post by West » 06 Mar 2015, 11:21

Thank you for writing out your experience, Ray. I will be going through the temple soon for the first time (not counting baptisms), and I love hearing about an experience on the other side of the room. :)
Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. -Albert Einstein

And God said 'Love Your Enemy,' and I obeyed him and loved myself. -Kahlil Gibran

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Re: My Perspective on the Temple Just Evolved a Little

Post by SunbeltRed » 06 Mar 2015, 11:44

Thanks Ray.

You have made me think about my feelings about the temple in a way I have not in a while. I'm still on the once a year plan, but I'll think about this the next time I am there.

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Re: My Perspective on the Temple Just Evolved a Little

Post by SilentDawning » 06 Mar 2015, 15:59

Thanks Ray -- I'm glad the experience provided some new perspectives.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

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Re: My Perspective on the Temple Just Evolved a Little

Post by LDS_Scoutmaster » 10 Mar 2015, 16:57

Great insight Ray. I found too, that some things become routine, and it's nice to have a fresh perspective and experience to keep us learning. There is a saying in zen that the more you seek after it, the faster it Flys away, then as you do not seek it, there it is. I have found myself searching so hard to feel and experience wholly, that it ends up being a detriment. I look forward to experiencing the temple again.
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Re: My Perspective on the Temple Just Evolved a Little

Post by richalger » 13 Mar 2015, 16:16

I don't know why I had not consciously thought of the endowment as a participatory play. It really is though it is not meant for entertainment as a commercial play is. I think there is something about joining a story being presented that is compelling.

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Re: My Perspective on the Temple Just Evolved a Little

Post by Curt Sunshine » 27 May 2015, 11:44

I was the officiator, for the first time, during one of the endowment sessions last Saturday, and I had a cool impression as I began that role.

The preceding couple of days had been difficult in some ways, and I wasn't feeling all that good about myself at the time. I stood up to start the session and had the fleeting thought that I wasn't comfortable representing God at that moment. Immediately, I had the thought that it didn't matter - that nobody is "worthy" to do it - that God doesn't care about who represents him from among a group of people who are trying their best to enter into his presence in the future - that the gap between where I was and where I want to be is okay.

It also was cool that the witness couple was chosen specifically to include someone who is an experienced officiator, so any prompting or correction could be done subtly. I made a few mistakes, but, as the temple president told me afterward,
"That's the only way to learn. If we didn't allow mistakes, nobody would ever do it and the whole thing would end."
There is a powerful message in that statement, and it goes far beyond the location and specific context.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Re: My Perspective on the Temple Just Evolved a Little

Post by Heber13 » 27 May 2015, 13:28

richalger wrote:I don't know why I had not consciously thought of the endowment as a participatory play. It really is though it is not meant for entertainment as a commercial play is. I think there is something about joining a story being presented that is compelling.
I wonder if the change to the movie made many people feel a loss of that participation experience. It may be more efficient as a movie, but what was sacrificed for the sake of global efficiency for the church?
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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