Monday, August 31, 2015

Different ways of learning in the temple

One of the things about going to the temple often is that it can be too easy to fall into a rut of thinking about the same old things, when the temple is meant to be a revelatory experience.

How can the temple be a revelatory experience when we do the same things over and over and hear the same words over and over?

My experience with scripture study over years of diligent reading has taught me that applying my own concerns and experience to what is done and said in the temple can bring interesting insight.  (I remember during a time I was taking an online class on selling, I went to the temple for an endowment session and noticed in the garden of Eden sequence Satan was a pretty wily salesman.)

Recently I went to the temple with my husband and we did a sealing session and I tried something I hadn’t tried before.  In addition to listening to the words as the sealer spoke them, I tried to imagine reading those words as if they were displayed on the wall.  (I did this because the reading process for me is very important to my ability to analyze and comprehend, and if I only hear the words I don’t get to do that.) 

Imagining seeing the words displayed as they were spoken took a lot of brainpower and I didn’t succeed fully in imagining all the words, but I succeeded enough that I noticed new things that I hadn’t noticed before.  Certain words jumped out at me with new significance, and I started to grasp linkages between phrases that I hadn’t found before.  I felt like the experience was profitable enough that I think I will try it during some of the other temple ordinances.

A few weeks before that, my husband and I had an opportunity to go through an endowment session presented with American Sign Language (ASL).  This was a fascinating experience too.  It was difficult because the sign for the words spoken was usually shown before or had slipped behind, but with as little ASL vocabulary as I had, I was able to catch some wonderful things.  It really stretched my brain as I tried to match the signs I had seen with the words said, and the signs I could match really augmented my sense of the meaning of those words.

When I took a film class at ASU, one of the principles talked about was mise en scene, which is the placing of the objects on the stage and the environment. (Yes, it is a French term, so good luck pronouncing it.) We learned that film directors often use the scenery and the objects in the frame to add meaning to the movie action.  With this in mind, I started watching the background of the endowment film to see if I could discern anything that added to the meaning of the dialogue and action.  And I was able to find a few things.  There was some symbolism there that I hadn’t noticed before.

Elder Scott had a talk from April 2009 conference called "Temple Worship: The Source of Strength and Power in Times of Need" which has some good things in it to think about while doing temple service.

So now I ask you, what skills have you applied to your temple experience to make it more meaningful?  What techniques and perspectives have helped you derive more meaning from it?  Will you share those, while still keeping sacred things sacred?