Sunday, July 10, 2011

First Days in the Temple

Escort: accompanying another for protection, guidance, or courtesy.

When Funke called me yesterday, I first cried in surprise and joy, and then I cried in longing. Originally from Nigeria, Funke now lives in Hounslow, a suburb of London, near Heathrow airport, and I have been in her flat a number of times, as she was often in mine during our thirteen months there.

The home that holds the most cherished memories for both of us though, is the House that belongs to the Lord. It was in the London England Temple, just a few weeks ago, that we held hands while Funke received her endowments. As her escort, it was my privilege to prepare her and then stay beside her throughout the experience, explaining as necessary, bolstering her confidence with smiles and squeezes. Pure joy.

This sacred honor came to me again just this week. I received another invitation to escort a new temple patron: my very own daughter, the only birth-daughter I will ever share the holy temple with. After a lifetime of loving the gospel, she took to it like a fish to water: completely at home amid scripture and symbolism, requiring a minimum of hand-holding.

As an eighteen-year-old raised in a less-active family, I needed far more support during my first visit to the temple. The sister who acted as my escort knew this and tenderly draped my arm through hers.

She exuded loving confidence throughout, both in me and in the proceedings, so that I relaxed into her testimony, resting my head on her faithful shoulder at every opportunity.

Two hours later, I was sealed for time and all eternity to her son.

When Funke and I went to the temple, she sweetly mimicked everything I said or did, like a younger sibling with an admired elder. Hannah was a little more independent, but still asked lots of questions. The Child-Bride-Me did a ton of both.

My poor mother-in-law was watched like a hawk and peppered with "why" and "what does that mean" and "how do I...'s"' until she almost ran out of answers. It was at that moment when she gave me the instruction which I swore (to myself) to never forget:

"Safety pin your locker key to the inside of your stocking."

Say what?

"That way it won't jingle in your pocket when you walk."

She watched me while I followed through. Satisfied I had mastered this important little rite, she took my hand and led me to the chapel.

Hundreds of temple visits later, she and I found ourselves together in the locker room of the Orlando, Florida Temple, where she was now serving with my Temple President father-in-law as the Temple Matron.

We cheerfully chatted in whispers while I changed and hung my clothes. With everything in the locker, I twisted the tiny key and raised my dress to expose the top of my knee-high stocking. Then -- as I popped open the safety pin attached to the key -- and while bending over to carefully complete the procedure I had followed for twenty-plus years --

she said the most astounding thing:

"What are you doing THAT for?"

Say what?

"Why are you pinning the key inside your stocking?" told me to?

(Shaking of the head.) "That's the silliest thing I ever heard of."


I must admit, it was awfully fun being Sage-for-a-Day; so fun, that as an escort, I couldn't resist passing on my own personal profundities:

Don't forget the Kleenex.
Only wash whites with whites.

Clip the hem of your dress to a skirt hanger when you store it in a hanging bag.

(and last but not least)

A pocket is THE best place to stash your locker key.

Of course since the temple is all about relationships, information, and forever, it seems perfectly appropriate for Hannah and Funke to cherish my advice like doctrine for the rest of their lives.
At least until they figure out a better way.
Or until I forget it.

Whichever comes first.

Muse with me: What advice do you remember from your first visit to the temple?

More musing on my relationship with my beloved mother-in-law:
Imitating Mother
Cherry-ty (Over-Chocolate) Never Faileth
Whose Body is it Anyway?


Hannah Z said...

Don't worry mama, I won't forget any of it! And years from now when we're in the temple and you see me pin my skirt on the hanger you'll say, "what a brilliant idea, who taught you that?" ;)

I'll always cherish our first day together. Love you!

Domestic Diva said...

That is the sweetest, cutest story I have ever heard, about the key. Ohhh, my heart just melted! What a special day, and wonderful memory with your daughter!

Ashley said...

Can't believe you were near the England Temple!!! My missionary is serving there :)

Sara Lyn said...

I remember lots of advice I got on my first time in the temple, but two things stick out. First, my parents told me not to bother remembering everything the first time, but just to focus on enjoying the Spirit. So I didn't bother learning anything, but boy did I feel the Spirit! Second, I remember you being in the Celestial Room to greet me and when you gave me a hug, you told me I looked like I belonged there. And I felt like that, too. :)

ldsjaneite said...

What a wonderful opportunity for you!

I remember a lot about that experience. And some of the advice I was given:
*Remember it is all symbolic
*Key in your pocket! :-)
*Always have a tissue with you
*Nylons and garments aren't usually friends
*Smile (My relaxed and concentrating faces tend to look like a frown)

My mother was a most wonderful escort. And little did I know I would get such a beautiful chance to emulate her when my dear friend asked me to escort her through the temple not even a year later.

The temple is my all. One of the first lessons I learned for myself on my first trip there was being able to see myself as God sees me. I have never forgotten that lesson, and over the years I have learned to take that lesson with me outside of the temple doors.

Grant said...

I hadn't heard that story! How funny is that? I wonder if she was just playing with you? :)

I love the temple, and yes, the pocket is that best place. :)

Bri... only she said...

ha ha.. The advice I remember is YOU telling me to PIN MY KEY TO THE INSIDE OF MY SOCK! I still do! LOL. Now I feel just silly! ;)

Lois Brown said...

What a wonderful post! To me being the escort for my daughter when she took out her endowments was the "IT" for me!!! Even more than the sealing, although the sealing was beautiful and very spiritual as well....there is just something about watching your daughter, who does it like she had been doing it all her life....go through the temple and love it!!! I like you was very young and needed much more assurance and help....where as my daughter had her first time be like it was her 100th time! It was really beautiful to watch and very humbling! I'm so happy for you to have this experience....because it is different when it is YOUR daughter!

Valerie said...

Too funny! I have never heard to do that before.

My mother was my escort and I don't remember her giving me any advice at all. Could just be my aging mind though. Either way, it was beautiful to be there with her. And my father was there too, just not my escort of course.

Mike Provard said...

Photograph of the Orlando Florida Temple (c)2005 by Michael Provard.

Bel-E-Button said...

This is a most beautiful, inspiring post.