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New Harmony: Cleaning — not cleansing — latter-day temples

Published: Wednesday, July 24 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

As I write this, I have pulled off of Interstate 15 for a few moments to ponder the St. George Utah Temple — beaming as brightly as our Father's mercy in the dusk.

And I'm remembering the time our friends, Mike and Leann Baird, asked us to help them clean the new Brigham City Utah Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I did some of my best thinking that night. Like those monks who rake the gardens in Kyoto, Japan, even when they don't need it, I think the simple manual tasks and sacred setting freed my mind to roam and make interesting connections.

For example, I thought of the similarities, and differences, in our "cleaning" the temple and Jesus "cleansing" it. We were all concerned about contamination, but for him the spiritual contamination far outweighed any palm prints on the brass. He saw his people rendering unto Caesar the things that were God's. And he found that affront to his Father unbearable.

Of course, we were going around ridding the temple of impurities as well, on a much smaller and harmless scale.

We found a few things to touch up — some crumbs on the cafeteria tables, a dime near the fridge, the restrooms. But for the most part we spent the time wiping down areas that were already spic-and-span.

Yet there were lessons in that, too. Lessons about vigilance, diligence, duty and care.

My wife was almost happy to find a smudge mark at one point. It meant she could leave things a little better than she'd found them.

It made me think that spouses would be better off if they'd get excited about finding flaws in each other, instead of being upset. Finding a flaw would mean you could be of service and leave things a little better than before.

That, needless to say, ain't gonna happen.

At least not outside the temple.

As for the St. George Temple, I watched it and wondered if someone inside was already readying the white jumpsuits and cleaning cloths. I wondered if they were ready for the temple "custodians" — in the best sense of the word — who would soon arrive.

Email: jerjohn@desnews.com

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