It was a cold, foggy morning when I went for a walk on temple grounds. I walked past a bench, and my mind was filled with scattered thoughts. On warmer days, I often sit on the bench and look out at the trees, listen to the birds, pray, and ponder things. The bench was wet from rain and fog, my fingers were frozen, and I couldn’t feel my cheeks, so I continued walking. I was reminded that Dad used to say after a hard day’s work, “Stand back and admire your work.” I thought about all the times I’ve sat on that bench admiring Heavenly Father’s work. I was reminded of the day I really gained an appreciation for God’s handiwork.
I was on a mountain deer hunting with Dad—which to Dad was more about walking around in nature than the hunt. I think he sensed that I was a little too anxious for deer jerky, and it was time to make use of a teaching moment. He pointed to a tree and told me to lie down on my back and look up. I idolized Dad and never questioned anything he told me to do. I shrugged my shoulders and got underneath the tree on my back and looked up. He did the same. He was completely silent for a few minutes as we looked up.
I looked up through the leaves on the trees and saw things I’d never really seen before. The sunlight sparkled on dew on the leaves. The leaves moved in the gentle breeze. Birds fluttered from branch to branch. As the leaves and branches gently moved from side to side, shadows formed. My hearing was never very good, but the silence of the morning allowed me to hear birds and critters moving about in the trees.
For 15 or 20 minutes, we were silently looking up. Dad finally sat up and told me to never forget to look up. Never forget to appreciate God’s handiwork. It was a lesson I have always remembered. Suddenly, the morning wasn’t about the deer jerky smothered in black pepper. It was about enjoying the wonders of the earth and having gratitude for its beauty.
Normally, I walk about an hour on temple grounds, but the cold cut my walk short. I have a little circulation problem in my already arthritic fingers. I’m very protective of my fingers because if I ever have to go back to work to support myself, the only thing I know how to do is type. At 65 years old, I hope that my days as a legal secretary are over, but one never knows what the future might bring, so I protect my fingers, as they are my livelihood. I went back to the car, covered myself with a blanket, turned on the engine, and turned the heat on high to thaw out. As I massaged the blood back into my fingers, magically the sun burned a tiny hole through the fog and helped warm my frozen bones. In just a few minutes, that little hole in the fog grew larger and larger. I looked out over the grounds as everything appeared to wake up.
I thought about the earth actually waking up. In a matter of minutes, everything seemed to come alive. It had seemed so sleepy and quiet. It was now sparkling and busy. Have you ever opened a bottle of carbonated soda and watched the fizz? Temple grounds were “fizzing” with earthly excitement. Did I say earthly? I think I misspoke. I think it’s more appropriate to say that the grounds were “fizzing” with heavenly excitement.
Heavenly Father directed His Son to create a world for us that would give us a little bit of heaven on earth. Yet, how often do we actually sit and appreciate the beauty and wonder of it all? We certainly have not been very good stewards over its beauty. We should take care of our little bit of heaven on earth. That would be the best way we can show our gratitude for its beauty.
My scattered thoughts turned to other things—like spiritual gifts. Recently, I was reminded to look for my spiritual gifts and to pray for extra spiritual gifts. Maybe one of my spiritual gifts is being able to really commune with nature. We are told that all spiritual gifts are for the benefit of furthering God’s work on the earth. If that’s true, then what do I need to be doing with this gift of appreciating nature? This is something that requires prayer and pondering. Maybe I’ll get that answer the next time I’m able to sit on that bench on temple grounds—or maybe it will come some other time. One thing I know for sure—it will come.
My scattered thoughts on temple grounds are always fruitful. I’m grateful to have a temple close. It wasn’t that long ago that we had to schedule a day to travel to a temple in another city. How blessed we are that the number of temples has grown exponentially in recent years. I hope to have many more scattered thoughts on temple grounds in the new decade.
Lead image: Washington D.C. Latter-day Saint Temple grounds.
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents.