Friday, March 06, 2009

What Is It? It's a Compass. What Does It Do? It Points North, John.

Today I volunteered at the temple. When Drek and I went to our new ward on Sunday, the stake was asking for volunteers to be ushers during the open house of the Temple (LDS temples have "open houses" before they are dedicated and functioning. Anyone can attend the open house, it's basically a tour of the inside of a temple). I volunteered, hoping to get some inside information (how long it took to build, how much it cost, why they chose that location, etc).

The hour meeting prepping you for assignment was just the supervisor checking and rechecking list, looking around, saying hi to friends and asking what every one's names were. Five minutes before we loaded on the bus he turned to me and said "You are number thirty-two, and you will be in the celestial room." Sweet! (The Celestial Room in an LDS Temple is always a beautiful room with white and flowers and such. It is supposed to represent heaven). The best spot, sure to be a wealth of information.

We arrived at the Temple, I was taken upstairs and handed off to the person I was replacing. She smiled at me, handed me her "Usher" name tag and turned to leave. "Wait!" I said; "What do I do?" She smiled and whispered; "Just smile and make sure people don't take pictures or talk on cell phones." And then she left. As she walked away I wanted to ask if someone did take a picture, was I supposed to confiscate their camera, but it was too late. Apparently, there would be no inside-information-giving. I smiled at the people already in the room and leaving the room ( I was at the exit, there was another usher at the entrance) and tried to figure out the situation. I realized that when everyone came into the room, they looked up. Curios, I, too, looked up. HOLY AMAZING!! Hanging from the ceiling was the most beautiful three-story chandelier I have ever seen. It was lighted, it sparkled, it was gorgeous. I looked back down. I didn't want to seem "touristy". People like their ushers act like they have seen the room before (and I had not).

Soon, a person walking by stopped and asked my my first question. "Is it made of diamonds or crystal?" Meaning the chandelier. I did not know. This was just the sort of inside information I was hoping that as an usher, I would be told. Alas, I was not told anything. However, given the choice between diamonds and crystal, I would pick crystal, and since people want their ushers to be knowledgeable, I answered "Crystal. Isn't it beautiful?" And smiled.

From then on I must have been asked twenty times what the chandelier was made out of, every time I would say crystal. On the bus going back to the parking lot at the end, I asked the supervisor what the answer was and he said Austrian crystal, and went off on how heavy it was.

My second question of the day came when a women asked me "What kind of flower is it?" "Which one?" I asked, thinking she meant the beautiful bouquets of flowers set in stunning crystal vases around the room. She gestured up to the ceiling. I gazed up and noticed that at the top of the chandelier was an elegant pattern resembling a flower. The same design is on the ceiling of the Provo Temple. I was pretty sure this was just a design, and not a particular flower, so I smiled apologetically and admitted that I didn't know.

Twenty minutes later a women asked me if my religion worshiped pansies. She could tell I was confused and added "Or is there some sort of pansy symbol?" Again, she gestured up and I supposed she was referring to the design on the ceiling. "Oh, they are just pretty flowers." I smiled at her (I had the smiling thing down pat).

Two hours later a man came by and said: "Are those Sego-Lilies?" and pointed upward. I followed his gaze and to my astonishment realized that bordering the ceiling were designs of flowers. This must have been what everyone was referring to. They resembled pansies, but I was sure the man was correct. "Yes, they are Sego-Lilies." I said. Which makes so much more sense, as the Sego-Lily is the Utah state flower. At the end I asked the supervisor and he confirmed they were, in fact, Sego-Lilies.

Little kids liked to ask questions too. They asked much better questions like "How do you now if there are mice in the temple?" and "How many shiny things are on the chandelier?" and "Did it cost more than gum to make it?" As he and his mom passed me one kid said "Mom, I want to live in this room."


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