175 years

This weekend I had the opportunity of going to Kirtland, Ohio, to join in the 175th celebration of the Kirtland Temple. Because of my husband’s (volunteer) position as the site coordinator for Heritage Plaza in Independence, Missouri, we were invited to come up for a day of classes on Saturday, preceding the actual service of celebration.

What a great weekend! Tiring….but well worth going up for!

There was lots of history shared in the classes I attended, taught by David Howlett. I learned much more than I could have ever imagined about the context of the building…the people who impacted and influenced the early members of the church…what was going on in society then…the tremendous changes that were taking place in religion…

We had the chance to make some new connections…a special one with a man known as “Mr. Kirtland”–who can tell you just about anything you might want to know at the drop of a hat. And we connected with other friends as well in a variety of ways…from spending the nights with them to sharing in services with them.

One of those connections gave us the opportunity of attending the service held by the Latter Day Saints early Sunday morning. We had to get up at 5:30 to get there…but we were able to hear absolutely gorgeous music directed by the son of a good friend of ours. What a blessing to be able to share with him.

And then we shared in the service held by the Community of Christ–the activity we originally went up for. Those who put the service together caught up the spirit of the service 175 years ago…and challenged us to let it move us forward into the 21st century. Singing, drama, preaching…and sharing with good friends!

So…175 years… I have trouble wrapping my mind around the incredible changes that have occurred during that time.

  • We’ve gone from horse and buggy to putting a man on the moon–and sending rockets further into space…
  • from hoping that a handwritten letter to family will actually get to its intended recipient to being able to communicate almost instantaneously with friends around the world…
  • from rarely traveling more than just a few miles from our birthplace to becoming members of a global community–and seeing nothing unusual in hopping a plane to take off to someplace thousands of miles away…
  • from comparatively small buildings to incredibly tall skyscrapers…

The list could go on and on.

And yet there is much that is similar.

  • A need to connect with family and friends…
  • Needing a connection with the Divine–even as we do it in a multiplicity of ways…
  • Creation of places that are seen as sacred space…

As we shared this weekend in activities sponsored by two faith traditions that began together but have since diverged in significant ways, we could have focused on those things that separate us. Yet instead we looked for ways to find connections.

And maybe that is one of the key lessons to take away from this experience. While many things have changed in the past 175 years–and will undoubtedly change beyond anything I can imagine in the next 175 years!–we need connections. Connections with each other…connections with the Divine…

We are not isolated individuals; we are brothers and sisters…and even in the midst of family squabbles, somehow we have to learn to value those connections. As the poet John Donne said so many years ago:

No man is an
island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as
well as if a promontory were, as
well as a manor of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it
tolls for thee.