I have spent time as a youth in Hawaii, and had visited the Cities of Refuge, and in Arizona an ancient Native American sacred site both of which had similar symbolism as I have seen in the Holy Temple. Yet, I have visited many of the Sacred Sites in church history, and treated them as places of interest, pleasure, pain, heartache, but honestly, I had not seen many of them as Sacred.
The first time I heard about Sacred Space was outside of Church at a training for the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music. At that time, I was not living the Law of Chastity. When they said go to that Sacred Space inside you, I knew my Temple body had been desicrated. I had taken my body for granted, Seen it as an object of interest, pleasure, pain, heartache, etc, much like I had treated the historic sites I had visited in my youth. During this same time, I was working in an integrative medicine clinic and was learning about the Eastern viewpoint regarding the body. I learned about the various energy centers called Chakras, and the Triple Warmer which reminded me of the Holy Temple, yet these were more or less like the tourist attractions and they didn’t seem sacred.
While meeting with a therapist regarding my addictions, I was challenged to look “to” and “for” the Temple in my recovery efforts. Throughout my recovery, I set my sights on the Temple. I remember a member of my ward gave a talk about a Temple Cleaning assignment. She spoke of how meticulous the work of scrubbing the banisters leading up to the Celestial Room with a toothbrush. This reminded me of the meticulous work required to do a thorough written Fourth Step in addiction recovery. I often say that prior to doing my Fourth Step, I was like the white-washed sepulchre filled with dead men’s bones. I looked pure on the outside, but I was dead spiritually on the inside. In another instance, a dear recovery support person, stood in proxy for a member of my family who is not yet ready for reconciliation. This person was able to ask for my forgiveness regarding some abuse that had me bound in a prison of resentment.
Then two weeks ago, something changed in regards to my view on the Temple. I was listening to the Mormon Channel, and heard a concept that changed my perspective about the Temple, my body, and Sacred Space. What I had heard was brief and I went searching for who had said it, and found that the comment was in reference to a talk by Elder Holland. He spoke of Liberty Jail and the conditions there. His description reminded me of much like what I felt like back then.
- The walls were nearly impenetrable…My emtional walls were as well
- The inside was cold…I was emotionally cold too
- The inside was uncomfortable…I was restless, irritable, and discontent
- It was hard to stand…I found it hard to take a stand on anything
- They were poisoned…my soul felt like it was poisoned
- The people around were crass…my friends and associates were less than celestial
B.H. Roberts called this the “Prison Temple”. In this setting some of the most poignant revelations were given. It was as if Joseph became a Holy Temple amidst the storm that surged around him. Similarly, our current Temples are placed in the midst of this world described in the bullets above.
So, whether it be addictions, Life-threatening illness, financial hardships, loneliness, Same-sex attraction, loss of friends, loss of opportunities, How do we turn our personal Liberty Jail experiences into our own personal Temple Prisons?
Maybe we can look to Temples and Prison experiences for insight.
I remember being taught by a Elder Bednar about Nephi and one small instance where he was bound like a prisoner and was left alone. He prayed for STRENGTH, and through the power of the Atonement, he was set free. Whenever I feel like I am sick or bound down and while in my personal trials, I can ask for STRENGTH.
The walls I built, out of FEAR, as a child, in order to protect me, became a prison. Like Nephi and Lehi, who, while imprisoned, were bit and spit upon, I can turn to the Lord to help shake down the walls, so I can emerge unscathed in my nakedness and vulnerability.
When Joseph complained about how bad it was to God, and asked when it would end. It was as if God were saying, “Be GRATEFUL”. I can look to my blessings, recognize how this trial was tailor-made for me, and will be CONSECRATED for my gain.
In times of old, when Joseph was sold into Egypt, his loss of CONNECTION with his family was a blessing in disguise. Even though testimony of former friends put Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail, the Lord told him that his friends were still by his side. In my times of need, I can turn to my CONNECTIONS, family, friends, recovery support partners, online community (North Star). If not, I can wait upon the Lord like Joseph of old, that His purposes may be manifest through the trial, even if asked to go it alone.
Above, I have shared only a few examples and insights regarding Sacred Space and the various forms of Temples. Will you share how your trials have become Sacred to you and/or your own personal Temple Prison? How has your experiences with living the gospel while also facing the challenges accompanying SSA both turned your focus to the Holy Temple? And likewise, how have your trials reminded you of the Holy Temple (please be mindful of the sacred nature of this subject and treat it appropriately)?