Monday, October 7, 2013

I Would Love Vicarious Temple Ordinances Even if They Had No Literal Impact on the Dead

I believe there is a marvelous, wonderful, awe-inspiring power inherent in the idea of working as a savior on Mount Zion - of turning our hearts to our ancestors in a manifestation of love and humility - that I haven't found in any other construct outside of vicarious temple ordinances.  In that regard, I believe we perform vicarious temple ordinances for the symbolism as it relates to us - and for what it does for us in a very important way - every bit as much as for the literal effect it might have on the dead. Vicarious ordinances really are an important part of the living Gospel for me, but that's mostly because I accept the symbolism as extremely powerful and paradigm-altering. I would love it for that reason alone, even if I didn't believe it had any literal impact on those for whom the ordinances are preformed.

Having said that, I believe if we miss the symbolism and what it can do for us by limiting it solely to its impact on the dead, it's just another dead work. (pun not intended when I typed those words, but . . .)

1 comment:

Donna said...

I love your blog insights, partly for what you say and partly for where it leads me to think.

". . . if we miss the symbolism and what it can do for us by limiting it solely to its impact on the dead, it's just another dead work . . ."

I think it's a circle--not totally, but in part--for it does for them as it does for us and it does for us as it does for them.

I realize some people who come to the temple here travel for hours to get to a distant temple and then are in the temple two, sometimes three sessions a day for a week or more. But sometimes it's just a warm body in a chair rather than a recipient of blessings. I have to wonder what it is doing for them to sleep through a session (even when the lights are on). Bragging rights of "I've done x number of sessions this week"? But perhaps the peace of the temple which allows them to doze off has its impact, too. (I'm not pointing fingers, for there have been times when I, too, have not been focused on either them or me--eyes open, but mind "asleep.")

I'm reminded of an experience of a Provo Temple worker shared when we worked there. It was his "habit" to mentally instruct the person he was representing, explaining what this/that means. One night he was doing that when he heard a voice "Brother would you be quiet? I'm trying to listen!"

I've had experiences when I knew the person I was representing was with me and accepting the ordinance, especially with family file names. In a very real way we become one as we do for them and they do for us. That never happens when I focus totally on "them."Sometimes we focus so much on what we're doing for them that we miss what they are doing for us . . .