Friday, February 13, 2009

Temple tour

Last Friday I toured the new Draper Utah LDS (Latter-day Saints) Temple. Draper is a suburb of Salt Lake City and has a really awesome mountain bike trail system Drew and I often ride with our friends. Our Mormon friends, Steve and Heather, live in Draper, and invited us to go tour the temple with them before it is dedicated and closed off to all but Mormons in good standing. Drew had to work, but friend Jim, Jim's daughters, and I accompanied Steve, Heather, their girls, and Grandma Hales on a walking tour through the temple. It was probably the best opportunity for me to see the inside of a place so very important to our friends and half the population of my neighbors. Plus, we had watched it being constructed near our trail for so long, and I knew if I didn't see inside it, I would regret that apathy each time I rode my bike behind it.
My impressions:

1) The building itself is very beautiful on the inside. It has sort of an art-deco architecture, but the gorgeous stained glass is arts-and-crafts style, and the furniture is more classical in style, but somehow it all works wonderfully together. Worthy of Candice Olson's Devine Design on HGTV.

2) The stone is way cool. "The Draper Utah Temple is built of the finest materials including granite from China ... and limestone from France." I wanted to get down on my hands and knees to see if I could identify any fossils in the limestone, but I wasn't in appropriate company, although I bet Madeleine, Steve and Heather's girl, would have loved to study it with me.

3) The baptismal font is this super cool giant challis thing surrounded by a dry moat and marble oxen statues. At first I thought they were pigs, which, for those of you who know me, would have been almost enough to have me baptized. But the baptisms the Saints do here are only for dead people so they can be with their families in heaven, so I wouldn't get to dunk here anyway. Still, it makes my Catholic baptism of a little baby over a bowl of water seem sort of unceremonious.

3) The celestial room: the center of it all. It was extremely pretty, but not as I suspected. The Mormons I know say the celestial room is a very sacred place that brings them peace. Maybe it was because I was walking through with 30 other people in a steady stream of gawkers, or perhaps it's because I am a non-believer, or maybe because the place had not been consecrated, but it didn't feel holy for me. I was unsure what to make of the fact that there were only these really soft and comfortable-looking sofas there (we were not allowed to sit on them); I had pictured either no seating or church pews. The natural lighting through the enormously high stained glass windows was stunning , and everything focused on the very center of the room. In this room was one heck of a chandelier! I hope it has really stout earthquake protection rigged in. I suspect that when the Saints are there in the right frame of mind, being in this room might be to them what being out in the desert alone is to me: peaceful, fulfilling, purposeful.

4) I expected a church type room, but there was nothing of the sort. Mormons have church at their local neighborhood churches, not the temple. I learn somethin' new every Friday.

My tour was made much richer because Heather was whispering all these interesting little tidbits about what activities go on in each room, and what this-or-that room meant to her. Like in the sealing room, she explained to me that this is where Mormon couples are sealed to each other forever (as in after death, too, contrary to "until death do us part"). I'm glad she hung with me on the tour even though I was wearing pants and 99% of the other women were wearing dresses ;-). Thanks to Heather and Steve for sharing this part of their lives with us.

So now I have been inside a Mormon temple. I won't say my life is complete, but I do feel more of a part of this community I live in.


  1. That was a great review, thanks! We are so glad you came with us on the tour.

  2. I'm so glad you blogged about your experience! It's great to hear about the temple from someone who hasn't grown up with the same beliefs all your life! Have a great trip!! I expect a full report on Maui....