Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dispelling cynicism...

I've been pretty cynical this week with work, plodding through projects that don't excite me, traveling on an unexpected and sudden out-of-state trip to fight with obstinate bureaucrats, and fighting a dismal economic climate that is creating difficulty for any hope of a better future with major design projects that cannot be financed, and all the pessimism that results.

It was in that spirit that I took my family to the Oquirrh Mountain Temple Open House. My daughter came home from college and we were all together for a brief few days. It was supposed to be a fun family time together. Unfortunate, I was carrying a spirit of cynicism.

In the preview orientation film, Pres. Monson and Elder Packer spoke of the eternal nature of the family. As much as I know this to be true, I couldn't help but feel cynicism as I looked into their eyes and thought of how they don't truly understand what I am going through, or those of my gay brothers and sisters. I tried to brush it aside and think otherwise and make the most of this experience, but the cynicism was still there. I said a silent prayer asking the Lord to soften my cynical heart as we finished the film and approached the temple doors.

I need to mention at first, that I am the Church's number one critic when it comes to church architecture - I despise it! I think it is devoid of creativity and inspiration. It is typically overcome with the burdens of institutional, bureaucratic "design-by-committee" mentality of the church architecture department, and as such comes off dull and utilitarian. Surprisingly, I was pleasantly pleased with the use of beautiful and warm stone tile everywhere - no carpet. But, then I put on my critical professional eyes and started critiquing the selection of the hardware, wall coverings, light fixtures etc. We went to the lower level first, and I couldn't help but see a critical flaw in the layout of the baptistry room where patron waiting are removed from the font itself, and I started feeling cynical again, thinking I could have done a better job in designing and detailing the temple myself. I felt myself grumbling inside as I passed through a hallway, but then I turned into the room of the font itself and stopped for a moment alone - the family continuing on ahead.

I paused and looked into the water. Suddenly, I was overcome with the spirit, and a voice entered my head and clearly said: "Stop grumbling! Stop critiquing and nitpicking the details and remember the eternal consequences and importance of sacred and saving ordinances that will take place here in these waters."

A lump formed in my throat and tears came to my eyes. Thoughts of past spiritual experiences flooded my mind and I remembered those feelings from the past that I had forgotten, allowing my cynicism to take control. I was being told what I know already, but it was like a slap on my head to shake me out of my cynicism and see the bigger picture.

As we proceeded to the ordinance rooms, the Celestial Room (which unfortunately still appears as a 5-star hotel lobby with a nice chandelier), and the sealing rooms, I began to feel the light of the afternoon sun radiate through every single space! There were windows everywhere in all spaces. The doors into these rooms were frosted glass allowing light even through them when closed. Natural light poured in everywhere - a rarity in temples where most have windows in corridor spaces, but primary rooms are devoid of natural light. Here, natural light can through multiple windows stretching floor to ceiling, through doors, and in skylights flooding even the center of the building core. Sunlight was everywhere! When I left the sealing room, pausing to have my family stare into the reflecting mirrors, I exited to the end of a spacious hall where light shone through each side and from above through a skylight focusing on a painting of Christ by Minerva Teichert. Again, the spirit overwhelmed me as I basked in that light, as I heard the words: "Things aren't perfect, my leaders aren't perfect, but IT IS TRUE, and this is my house. Be patient and be calm and things will work out for your good."

I left feeling uplifted. Even though I tried hard to feel otherwise, I couldn't help but be touched. It was more than a touch - it was a slap in the head.

When we were outside, walking around the exterior, I snapped this shot with Moroni eclipsing the sun in a perfect alignment. I don't know it's significance, but it was a nice parting shot.


Gay LDS Actor said...

I'm glad you had such a good experience. That's terrific. It's true that we need to remember that even if individual aspects of it aren't perfect, the church itself is Christ's church.

I know what you mean about the opening video. When I went to the Draper Temple I felt the same feeling of...well, not cynicism exactly, but a feeling that people like us are often misunderstood and unintentionally left out.

Ned said...

Beautiful photographs to go with a spiritual outpouring that you will long remember. Thanks for sharing this on your blog. Your children and wife are blessed to have you in their lives, as are your brothers and sisters here.

Happy Father's Day!

Sarah said...

Thank you for sharing. I can sense myself becoming more and more cynical as well, and am grateful for reminders that keep me grounded and where I need to be (including this blog post!).

We went to the open house yesterday in the middle of a downpour, so we didn't enjoy sunlight through the windows. But I think we all enjoyed the experience--I may blog a bit about it later.

Bravone said...

Thanks for sharing your feelings. I probably relate more than I'd like to admit to the cynicism, but like you, am compelled to believe and trust Him whose children we all are.

Beck said...

CODY: I find your attitude and perspective so inspiring and refreshing. Thanks for being you!

NED: Remembering is the key. How long will I remember? Or will the grind and pains of life cloud my recollection of these micromoments of divine communication? Why is it so easy to forget?

SARAH: Actually, when we were in the tent for the orientation video, it was dark and cloudy and the wind whipped and flapped the tent to distraction. Maybe that is why when the sun did come out and radiated light through every space inside the building, it made it that much more impactful.

I hope you can get beyond your cynicism and see and remember the feelings you still feel that ground you.

BRAVONE: Trust. Yeah, these little moments and brief but unmistakable communications of the spirit keep me trusting, keep me keepin' on... Hang in there with me!

Over the Rainbow said...

Beck- I am so glad you were able to feel the Lord's love over the general hypocrisy that is all too prevalent in the church. Your post has me in tears.

And I agree with Ned- your family and the MoHo world are all lucky to have you, because of your stuggles and pain and the peace you strive to find.

Beck said...

Thank you OTR for your kind and touching words. I don't see this blog being that meaningful or helpful to others when I'm as confused as I am, but it means a lot to me to hear such comments of it having meaning to you.