Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Last Sunday I noticed a number of wasps flying around a particular spot in my yard.  I was wearing a white long sleeved shirt and tie that I still had on after church.  I grabbed the flyswatter and started to try and hit them in the air.  As I was doing so I was stung on the back of my arm.  I went inside and removed my shirt and examined the area that was stung.  I picked up the shirt and looked at the cloth, and marveled that any wasps sting could penetrate the cloth because it was particularly thick.  After a moment I put the shirt back on, only to realize that the wasp that stung me was still in the shirt when it stung me again.  Sometimes it's the things you don't see that can sting you.

I remember as a small child in Logan looking out the kitchen window every morning and seeing the temple rising majestically above the trees. I loved the Temple with its towering spires and walls, I also loved what it represented, and how it cemented our family together.

I also remember sitting in church drawing in all the little rocks in the walls of the temple on the front of our weekly sacrament meeting program. I think I learned to like rock walls, and stone architecture from appreciating the Logan Temple.

The sea, a wall, a house, a gate, a forest path, a well, a Temple.

I want to tell you about a place in Wales my family and I visited this summer. It was a place with many rock walls, which were built over many centuries. The walls held in sheep, marked the property boundaries, and would occasionally combine with the side of a barn. They would run between fields, and through forests where fields once were. A man could build a 3 foot length of such a wall in a day, if the rocks were readily available, which they often weren't. You have to gather the rocks before you can build the wall. When men built these walls they left a legacy .

Nearby was the sea, which was rapidly eroding the land. There was a beautiful 4 mile long beach, which largely went unused because of powerful and dangerous currents, numerous jelly fish, and a precarious crumbling cliff of dirt and clay.

The land above the beach was strewn with cracks where the ground was weakened. Often the ground on the downhill side had sunk a foot or two where a crack was. Some of these cracks could be found up to 200 ft inland. Some were wide and foreboding, others were so narrow you wouldn't even notice them. During storms chunks of pasture were prone to fall into the sea. The sheep wandered back and forth grazing in the meadow and up to the tempting grass on the unstable ground at the cliffs edge.
Fittingly, this bay was called Hells Mouth.

The sheep were all numbered by the farmer, and were marked as his. Close to the edge of this cliff was a centuries old stone farm house. It's currently for sale. Whoever buys it will need to move it quickly. I suppose when it was built it was quite some distance from the sea.

Not far away was another house. If was built beyond the end of the beach right next to the sea.  It was equally old, and slightly smaller. It was built on the rock that underlies the adjacent hill. Where it is situated the shoreline won't move. It has definitely seen more abuse from the elements than the first house. I'm sure the builder of the first house thought the green meadows were the perfect place to build, and may have wondered why his neighbor would build so close to the sea. Not realizing that his own home would one day be the one in danger.

We stayed in a house between the other two about two blocks away from the sea at the edge of the hill. This house may have been built on rock, or clay. It was hard to tell.

Nimrod, known as a great hunter in the Old Testament, organized the people and made bricks to build Babylon. When you think about it, all bricks are essentially the same. The same weight, thickness, width, length. You can build great things with bricks. I think Nimrod meant to do the same with the people. He would conquer the various nations and bring them all together to work on building up Babylon. He would eliminate their differences, they all spoke the same language, and they would all fit in the way he saw fit.

Maybe you've heard the statement "no one is irreplaceable". That statement has always struck a discordant note with me, and I know intuitively it's not true. Maybe in a certain economic or business context it makes sense, in the same way human life can be reduced to economic terms.
But in the church we know the worth of a soul, and that every human being is unique and has immeasurable potential. We all have unique talents and abilities. We are not bricks.

I think that's why I like rock walls. You see, each rock is unique, and in a wall each one has its place and fills it. Each one has a slightly different shape, texture, and color. Each stone holds up and supports the others. In our family we are all different and all contribute in our own way, we uphold and support one another. The same can be said for our ward.
In the church, it is on the rock of our redeemer, who is Christ, that we must build. He is our firm foundation. We are to be like him, and take his name upon us. We do that through the covenant and ordinance of Baptism and partaking the sacrament.

There were two types of walls. The ones that ran across the country side were dry stack walls with no mortar holding them together, but the house we were in was solid, and the walls were thick.
The builder built the house with mortar and made sure the rocks that made up the side of his home were sealed together.

The people who lived there in times past had everything they needed. A mill was attached, a stream flowed next to it. There was an orchard, and many fields. It was built to last and has served many generations, but still it's potentially in danger at some time in the future. When, inevitably, the adjacent land is eroded away, and the storms come, only then will we be able to tell if it was built upon rock. Remember, sometimes it's the things you don't see that can sting you.

Next to the house was a path into the woods, the path was lined with wild flowers such as fox gloves, and fuchsias. At the head of the path was a gate. One day I decided to explore this path to see where it led. It went quite a way through the woods, and wound around up the hill. At the end of the path of the was a flowing well, that I would learn was supplying the water to the house. I later found out the well was dug in the 6th century by early Christians who would regularly escape persecution by staying on a nearby island. The well was known for its healing power. Perhaps the water had some minerals in it that could correct a deficiency, perhaps someone _was_ once healed there. I was a little surprised to learn I had been drinking and showering in the holy water all week.

The symbolism of this landscape was lost on me until we returned home, and had a chance to think about it. A treacherous threatening tide, crumbling ground, building on the rock, a gate, a path leading to healing waters. It reminded me of Lehis' dream where you press forward a partake of the love of God, it also reminded me the path and gate spoken of in 2 Nephi, and of Jacobs well where the Savior taught about living water.

2 Nephi 31:17-19
17 Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.
18 And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive.
19 And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.

John 4:6 - 15
6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.
7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.
8 (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)
9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.
10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.
11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?
12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?
13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.
We wander a modern shifting landscape, with dangers seen and unseen. Some of us are tempted to the green grass near the edge of a raging sea.

What are the most important things in your life? As Steven Covey asked, what would you cross the I-Beam for? To me it's my wife and children, my parents and the rest of my family, and to an extent my friends and neighbors. No one in my family is replaceable.
All of the most important things in my life are linked back to the Temple. The whole purpose of life is realized through the ordinances and covenants of the temple. It is through these covenants that we are sealed together.

The reason we visited England was to attend my brother in laws temple wedding.  As we approached the temple, the Preston England temple, it too rose above the trees. It projected a strength and majesty that reflected the years of sacrifice and strong conviction to the truth of those who wondered if they would ever have a temple. The church was introduced to the Preston area 175 years ago. Many of the people who joined the church then crossed the ocean, then the plains, and are among our ancestors.

The people who have lived in that area in the interim weren't as blessed as we were, and are, until 1998. For more than a century and a half church members faithfully lived their lives, they built themselves, built their families, built the church, and established a spiritual foundation on which the temple could stand.

The ceremony we attended was beautiful, and a new family was formed. One built on the foundation of Christ, and sealed together through the power of the Priesthood. One that can withstand the storms and the very mouth of hell, if those covenants are kept and honored.

There are unseen things which can undermine us and weaken our walls, if we let them. There may be unseen cracks beneath our feet if we aren't careful to stay on the firm foundation of Christ, if we aren't regularly grasping the iron rod of his word, or drinking of his living water.
1 Corinthians 3:9-16
9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.
10 According to the agrace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
11 For other afoundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

I remember being in the temple on another occasion, for the sealing of an adopted boy to his parents. Another part of this family was being built. When the boy was brought to the room, his eyes lit up when he saw his parents and he excitedly ran to them. He may not have fully grasped the significance of what was happening that day. I'm not entirely convinced I fully understand and appreciate it either.
There wasn't a dry eye in that sealing room as this boy was sealed into an eternal family.

Jeffrey R. Holland asked: "Do [our children] know we love being in the temple, not least because it provides a bond to them that neither death nor the legions of hell can break?"

Attending the temple often, is the best way we have of reinforcing our walls. Let's not take for granted the fruit of the sacrifices and faithfulness of those who made these temples in our midst possible. When we look at our beautiful Logan temple let's remember that each of those stones represents the time effort and sacrifice of the builders who placed them, and let's think of the significance of the mortar that seals them together.

Sometimes it's hard to retain an eternal perspective. Sometimes our path has a curve in it obscuring our view of the treasure at its end. Sometimes there is one last obstacle to cross before you get there.
Although it provides life giving water, the sheep for the most part will never see the well, but it's there. We have the opportunity of going to the source and drinking deeply.

Build yourself, by partaking of the living water and standing on a firm foundation.
Watch out for those things that would undermine, or weaken your walls.

Build your family
D&C 64:33 Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.

Build your ward, build the church - Love your neighbor as yourself, and keep in mind that our eternal purpose is the same as the Lords purpose.

Moses 1:39 - For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.