Sunday, April 4, 2010

Holy places: home, temples, and my oven

The wind was howling.  Had been all week.  I was sitting in my living room with a book nearly plastered to my nose when I heard the door rattle.  Whistles erupted from the cracks beneath the door.  Because our door doesn't latch completely, I jumped off the couch to twist the deadbolt to the left, securing it in place.  It continued to rattle but held shut.  The atmosphere dripped with intensity as the thick air whirled around my little home.  I opened the blinds to admire the power of nature and its Creator.

The sky.  It was beige.

The book.  It was exquisite. . . when I could concentrate on it.

Real life just seemed too interesting to put down.  It was like someone stuck a microscope on the tips of my insect feelers because I was simply absorbing the details around me.  The dust devils swirling like a coordinated dance, the palpable bitter chocolate taste, and the feel of my hair whipping wildly around my head as I stepped out the door.  My doormat was swept off the porch by a particularly unruly gust of wind and flew eighteen feet in the air before it was pushed back to the ground by another burst.  It would sit in the far corner of my yard until ten o’clock that night when I arrived home from a grueling day of work.

While I was savoring the romance and intensity of that wondrous weather, I failed to connect it with the events of the next day.

Which was Thursday.

Which was a special day.

Because my dear friend was going to through the temple for the first time in preparation for her upcoming mission.  I remember when that was my Thursday, except it was a Saturday, but it was just as special.  For this reason, I greatly desired to be with her to selfishly bask in her joy and spirit.  The temple she chose to attend was Oquirrh Mountain.  Although it was a mere forty-five minute jog up the freeway, I was feeling a great deal of anxiety about this trip.

While my car doesn’t make loud flatulent noises (like a certain sister’s) he has his share of problems.  And yes, my car is a ‘he’.  I cannot give a technical description of these issues, but I can describe its effects.  When a speed is reached that is higher that about fifty miles per hour his steering wheel begins to shake back and forth and it is suddenly difficult to control him.  So, I’m very cautious about driving on the freeway and typically avoid it.

That afternoon prepared with a full tank of gas, an ipod set to my ‘Sunday folder’ for spiritual preparation, googled directions written in large bold letters for at-a-glance reading on the back of a torn envelope, I felt as ready for my trip.  I loaded in to my car and gripped the steering wheel while giving myself an inspiring pep talk.

“You can do this,” I said.  “You can do this!”

My desire to be on time for this glorious event inspired me leave an hour earlier than was really necessary, but I offered a prayer to my Father that I’d be protected and not get lost.  Double insurance.  I turned the key in the ignition and reluctantly putted toward the freeway.  Making my way up the ramp I slammed on the gas in an attempt to reach interstate speeds before I was run over by a semi.  My steering wheel started its shaking and I gripped it tight as to keep the car from swerving in the lane.  I remembered the words of my father telling me my tires might not last ‘til next year and, while I hadn’t initially worried about that for around-town driving, as I passed the blownup bits of rubber on the sides of the road my unease increased.  My check-engine light flashed on.  I sang along loudly with my sister-in-law belting “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” from my ipod to calm my ‘troubled heart’.  It seemed to be working.

Remember that wind?

That’s when it picked up and began to beat upon my car, which was swaying from its strength as well as the added gusts from passing vehicles. I continued to press the gas pedal to keep up with traffic only to watch Hondas, Fords, and even Kias fly past.  The only vehicles I seemed to be faster than were the semi trucks.  But that didn’t matter.  I had left an hour early, remember?

Because I’m here to write this blog you can safely assume that I lived.

It’s because I said that prayer.

I was also an hour early.  But if having to spend an extra hour at the temple was the worst that could happen, I was going to be okay.

The Oquirrh Mountain Temple has become special to me because of that extra hour.  The Lord gave me a gift there in the form of a scent.  It’s a new building, filled with new building smells.  As I walked through the doors, whiffs of new carpet and fine woods filled my nose.  I walked close to the walls in order to fill my olfactory sensors with freshness and quality.  I changed into my white dress and sat on an upholstered bench in the hallway.  As I studied the patterns in the wallpaper a scent not native to the temple construction drifted beneath my nose.  It was a human smell, not perfuming, but like clean skin and hair.  It was the smell of my grandfather—the smell of him reading a newspaper with a magnifying glass, the smell of his jokes that I took as facts, the smell of him coaxing me to say ‘eucalyptus’ so he could admire my strong lisp and fatal attempts.

I was suddenly aware of his presence in the temple with me although I could not see him.  I think he was proud of me, for I could feel his joy.  My eyes focused on the carpet and I breathed in deeply, basking in that extraordinary moment.  I bowed my head in silent prayer, thanking my Heavenly Father for the gift of temples where the veil is so thin.

When my friend walked into the chapel light beamed from her countenance like one touched by the spirit.  She, too, could feel that temples are special places.  I felt happiness that I’m unable to describe.  I didn’t want to laugh or shout or throw my hands in the air in pure glee.  I wanted to just sit and shine like a star so all could feel the warmth of my joy.

What a beautiful day!

This dear friend leaves at the end of the month to serve the people of Taiwan, and to thank her for all she’s done for me and tell her that I believe in her, I baked a cake.

Good Luck, Sister Sorensen!


  1. Darn it Kayla, you made me cry. haha

  2. Thanks for sharing such and interesting and extraordinary day. I especially enjoyed the experience you had with Dad. Thank you, Kayla, of living worthily of such a beautiful gift. Oh and you made me cry too. ;-)