To Elder Paul Freeman
July 23, 2008
After I sent you my letter last week, I went back to proof and polish it for publishing on my blogs, and ultimately ended up adding to it. The finished product can be found at both A Mormon Family Journal and A Mormon Journal, so I'm not bothering to send it to you again. Honestly, I doubt that you had time to read it all last week. With that in mind, I'm only going to send that which I haven't previously sent you this week, so you can have time to finish reading it all if you have a mind. And, since I know you've got pictures to peruse and other letters to read, I'll only send the last bit. (I also got our family page up and running. You can check it out if you like).
But, before that, a bit of chat. Hurricane Dolly is headed straight for Brownsville, but she's just a timid little thing (barely a category 1), so it doesn't look to be too serious. We hope to get a bit of rain out of it, but I'm skeptical. All we've seen thus far are sprinkles.
Adam took some much needed time off last week for a bit of a vacation with the fam. They went to Galveston on Thursday, did the beach and the aquarium, and then came up here on Friday. After he and Ariane got back from the movies (they saw The Black Knight at the new IMAX on H249, they tooled around town looking at furniture, then finally ended up back here to work on their hutch (or at least that was the plan). Actually, Adam decided the oak tree out front needed trimming and followed Dad out when he went to mow the lawn. Dad didn't get the lawn mowed, but the tree did get a bit of a trim, which was nice because I really would have hated to see Dad perched up on that ladder like Adam was. Fortunately for him, Dad had been contemplating the whole business for some time and had already bought an electric tree trimmer, so the job was a lot easier than he anticipated.
I went to the temple yesterday with Sister P. That was really nice. It was Relief Society temple day, in addition to the day MW took out her endowments. It was good because more than Sister E and Sister P were there, but also the Sisters R, Sister B, Sister P, and myself. MW and BE will be getting married on August 2nd. Sister E used to do weddings for a living, so there's really not much she wants us to do, but G and I plan on putting ourselves as much in her way as possible so we can be of as much use as she allows.
Whenever I go through a session with someone who is taking out their own endowments, my mind is always full of my first visit to the temple and I wonder if their thoughts mirror my own at that time. Then, I consider how much I have learned and how my testimony has strengthened over the ensuing 28 years, and each new thing the Lord teaches me when I attend.
Last fall during the adult session of stake conference, President Tolman explained to us why our stake was not going to participate in the 'fill the temple' program that the new temple president initiated. He said that because we live within the shadow of the temple, we should not have to be compelled to attend by a sense of obligation. He didn't want attending the temple to be for us just another church assignment, as if we were filling a shift canning peanut butter. He said he hoped each of us would develop the resolve that nothing can keep us from the temple.
That need is very much a part of me. I crave to enter those walls and partake of the peace and spiritual enlightenment and instruction that awaits me there. Unfortunately, lacking transportation does keep me from the temple, but I need to strengthen my commitment and my arrangements so that even that ceases to be an issue. Aunt Carrie has started working in the temple, and the other day she told us of a scripture her temple president wanted them to memorize, which is this:
24: That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light growth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.
This is stunning to me when I consider how much light and knowledge of eternal things I believe myself to understand, and yet, I know that compared to the light the Father wishes to bestow me, I now scarcely hold a candle.
Sister J relayed another experience to me from her temple work. She attended a fireside of just temple workers inside the temple, and the speaker was an area authority or something of the sort. She said the things he taught them were deeply profound and awe-inspiring as things she had never learned before. Even so, now, she cannot remember of what he spoke which is typical of those in attendance that day. Overpowering all were the mighty power of the Spirit and truth and the brilliance of the light which shone upon them.
But why should this seem beyond our own grasp? It is all there in the scriptures which we are exhorted by the prophets to study. We are not admonished to memorize the Journal of Discourses or other writings or to make them a part of our daily routine. IWe are guided and instructed through the Holy Scriptures in which the complete Gospel of Jesus Christ is contained, where we obtain everything we require to gain salvation and exaltation. It is all there, at our fingertips, the same scriptures read by Joseph Smith and Brigham Young and Gordon B. Hinckley, the same source of light and knowledge. The question then remains, how much light are we allowing to escape from within those pages? How much light are we allowing into our souls?
The image comes to me of a dark lantern (which sounds oxymoronic, I know), which is basically a normal lantern surrounded by a metal can with only one door that the user opens or shuts according to when and where he wants the light to shine. Our scriptures are much akin. We carry around the source of truth, knowledge, and inspiration, that conduit to the Spirit in its completeness, everything the Lord knows we require to return to him again. Do we stumble around in the dark because we refuse to open the lantern, do we open it now and again to shine on a particularly rough patch in our path, or do we open it wide and cherish the light? Do we continue in God as the light grows brighter and brighter until we reach that state of perfection in which we become that light? I see attending the temple as removing that light from the captivity of the dark lantern and into the freedom and protection of a hurricane lamp. In this, the light shines free of encumbrance, its own variable how bright we allow it to burn.
Too many of my answers to these questions are shameful. I need to improve. I need to allow that light into my life by humbling myself enough to admit that I need it and that I cannot traverse this journey without it. There pride rears its ugly head again and keeps me too much in the dark. I need meekness and humility, and in this way continue in God by obeying his commandments and keeping the covenants I have made. Only through this can I partake of that light.
Well, here is another long letter that I swore was going to be shorter. Sorry about that. I need to stop here so that you'll have time to read [my previous letter]. Know that I love you. I always pray for you. When I attend the temple on Tuesdays, a strong complement of missionaries usually attend the same session, and as we pray for them, you are indeed bright in my thoughts and sweet in my heart.
All my love,