This is a second in a series about learning how to get the most out of the Temple.
Years ago I first entered the Temple as an emerging adult about to enter the mission field. Although many memories of that experience are vague, some thoughts and feelings have not been forgotten. No matter how much information I was given, none of it prepared me for the first time. It was strange to see and participate in such a richly symbolic activity. This left me confused once finished. Despite those who express spiritual rejuvenation and enlightenment, some never return.
Lack of preparation is not the only reason for a negative reaction. Many cultures have unique and demanding rituals that bridge the gap between the child and adult world. Such initiations have mostly been wiped out in Western civilization, replaced by childish giving in to base instincts. What used to be signs of adulthood in the modern culture at least thirty years ago is quickly fading. No longer can marriage and entering the workforce be counted on as expectations. Growing up has been replaced by holding on to adolescence and immaturity for long as possible.
Is it any wonder those who have never entered the sacred walls of the Temple for the endowment can be stunned? Schools teach science, mathematics, and language arts directly. Peripherally social instructions come from peers of the same general age and maturity. For Mormons, church attendance teaches the basics of Faith and Obedience with only a hint of ritual through baptism and Sacrament. The granting of Priesthood and young women awards have some notion of social graduation. Receiving the endowment is the ultimate religious expression of reaching adulthood and spiritual maturity.
My response to discomfort for the first time could have been to never return. There are those who choose this path. Such is not my nature when confronted by things I don’t understand. The need to know inspired me with the willingness to search, pray, and ponder for meaning. Knowing what I do now, I would like to leave some suggestions how to get more out of Temple attendance. Continue reading