Friday, September 24, 2010

My White Temple Bag

It was a cold, crisp winter morning when I received the impression to go to the temple. This had happened occasionally to me before, but surprised me on this morning because I had been to the temple so recently. I finished up my housework, bathed and changed into my Sunday clothes.

Having no other immediate commitments, but still confused, I drove to the temple grounds. Much to my surprise, the parking lot was completely empty and I knew that the temple was probably closed. I had shown up once before on such a morning in another state in an earlier, more innocent season of my life, and had later learned that most temples have semi-annual two-week periods when deep cleaning and minor remodeling is done.

So why had I received the impression to go? I sat and wondered in the comfort of my truck. Then, as the sun began to warm my skin, I noticed a path of debris scattered across the temple grounds. A nearby building project had been adding insulation to the walls and the previous evening’s heavy wind had scattered bits of insulation and the packaging across one area of the temple lawn and gardens. It looked so unkempt and thus very different from the temple grounds I was accustomed to.

I felt a deep desire to clean up this debris in honor of the temple’s sacred nature, but had no container in which to confine such stray pieces of insulation and plastic packaging. Then I thought to look behind the seat of our truck to see if perchance there was anything I could use.

To my surprise, there was an oversized, heavy-duty, white plastic bag neatly placed behind the seat. I had never purchased such a bag. In fact, I had never seen such a commercially produced bag, but it was lying there, nevertheless. Suddenly and quite clearly, I knew my purpose in coming to the temple. I was there to clean up the grounds and the Lord had provided the way past my own capacity to do so by putting a different kind of white temple bag in the truck.

I was concerned that the temple gates would be locked, what with the temple being closed, but not surprisingly found the nearest entrance open and welcoming. It was a pleasant task, this cleaning for the Lord. I remember that the sky was an acute azure, typical of my area’s brilliant mornings the day after a snowfall. I walked around leaning down to pick up insulation here and there on the frozen ground and reaching between bushes to retrieve the pieces that had been caught during last night’s windy fury.

It didn’t take me long to bring this area of the temple grounds back to its previous, stately beauty. I knotted and then dumped the white bag in the dumpster on the adjacent construction site and returned home.

I have thought of this experience again and again. Why had I been chosen? How had I known just what to do when the need presented itself? What could I learn from finding the white plastic bag in my truck? I did not understand the experience in its fullness. It had just happened.

Then, just recently, when I was walking alone through some different temple gardens during early morning hours on another crisp day, I thought of that morning when I discovered I had a second white temple bag, this one for cleaning the Lord’s Garden. As I walked and thought, the impression came that I had been asked to help because the Lord knew I would. The words came to my heart, “We asked you, because we knew you would go.”

And so as my life’s path wanders here and there, I have recommitted myself to live more purely, to be closer to the Lord, and to always readily respond to the tiniest of the Spirit’s impressions. Even a janitor, especially the janitor that does the Lord’s work at His bidding, finds the deepest, sweetest and most clear joy in his or her soul. Such was my experience when cleaning the grounds of that temple. Such is the feeling with the return of this memory over and over again to my mind.

May all of us live such that we can be ready to serve when the impression comes! Then we will hear in our hearts, “Ask her, she will go.” “Ask him, he will go.” “Ask them, they will go.” And so, in our own special, small, and often anonymous ways, we will serve Him whom we love.

Photos by and Used with permission of iamim and novepages.