I'VE BEEN READING Truman Madsen's new book, "The Temple: Where Heaven Meets Earth."

The title caught my eye. I sometimes think of the temple as "God's halfway house" — a place where people in bondage can get a glimpse of true liberation.

A few months ago I was asked to explain the temple to some Primary children in Brigham City. I asked if I could explain something a little less difficult to them — like the law of molecular attraction in zero gravity — but I was told no.

So, I did what every Primary teacher does in a pinch.

I hurried to the library for some visual aids.

When I met with them, I set a globe on the floor and held a painting of Jesus up high with my left hand. Then, between the two, I held a photo of the San Diego Temple. I told them getting to heaven was a long trip. Sometimes we need a nice place to go during the journey. The temple was like a spiritual hotel. It was where we could rest. It was clean and filled with light.

"What color do you think the shoes are in the temple?" I asked.

"White!" they said.

"And the neckties, dresses, socks, Bibles and Kleenex boxes?"

"White!"

White, I said, means clean. And a rhyming word — "light" — means filled with the spirit.

Like the little, white edelweiss flower in the famous song, the temple was "clean and bright."

In his book, Brother Madsen spends a bundle of pages talking about that temple light and whiteness. And, as expected, his insights are fresh and inspiring. He writes:

"Joseph Fielding Smith, as president of the Salt Lake Temple, often spoke of his favorite scripture: 'That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day' (D&C 50:24).

"One night Harold B. Lee sat with the president of the Manti Temple looking up toward the floodlighted spires. A dark storm raged around them. The temple president said, 'You know, Brother Lee, that temple is never more beautiful than during a storm."'

Toward the end of the chapter the author offers one of his poems. The poem reads, in part:

God's house reverberates

with silence,

filled with echoes

from the faithful

who have followed the light

to here, like a star.

White, we come clothed in white

to this place,

of radiant light.

...

with my heart as new,

may I, too,

be lighted?

At the end of my little talk to the primary kids, I tell them in the temple people feel clean on the outside and filled with light on the inside. They will, in effect, be tiny temples, inside another temple.

I'm not sure they fully understand what I'm trying to say.

I'm not sure I fully understand.

As for Truman Madsen, I have a feeling he'd probably say, "That's OK. Who among us ever fully does?"


Jerry Johnston is a Deseret News staff writer. "New Harmony" appears weekly in the Mormon Times section.


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