House of Learning: Getting More from Your Temple Experience (Hardcover)(edit)
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“All Latter-day Saints can benefit from this book. If you've never been to the temple, it can help you prepare, and if you are a long time temple attender, it can remind you of some basic things you can do to get the most out of worshiping in that place.” &mdash Association for Mormon Letters
Have you ever felt that there might be something more waiting for you in the temple? Many people who say they love the temple and feel good when they attend still express a desire to bring greater focus to their temple worship. This insightful book from a former temple president and matron is designed to help.
Engagingly written, with many personal experiences and practical applications, House of Learning outlines ways any Latter-day Saint, novice or seasoned, can prepare to be receptive to the spiritual teachings of the temple. It outlines the traits we need to develop to be in the proper frame of mind and heart for temple attendance. Then it explains a simple process through which we can unlock the spiritual meaning of the ordinances — including how they apply in our lives — and make the temple our house of learning.
Table of Contents
Part 1: Preparing for Temple Worship
Chapter 1: It Begins in the Heart
Chapter 2: The Power of Love
Chapter 3: Loving Kindness
Chapter 4: Reverence in the House of the Lord
Part 2: How to Learn in the Temple
Chapter 5: The Principle, the Savior, and Me
Chapter 6: A Place of Personal Revelation
Chapter 7: Seeing Yourself as the Lord Sees You
Chapter 8: Receiving a Fulness of the Holy Ghost
Chapter 9: The Temple — Our Key to Happiness
- Size: 6" x 8"
- Pages: 144
- Published: 2010
About the Authors
M. Richard Walker and his wife, Kathleen H. Walker served as president and matron of the Salt Lake Temple from November 2005 to November 2008. Prior to their temple service, Richard, an attorney by profession, served as a bishop, stake president, mission president, and temple ordinance worker. After both lost their spouses in death they met and married in January of 2004. They live in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Kathleen H. Walker and her husband M. Richard Walker served as president and matron of the Salt Lake Temple from November 2005 to November 2008. Kathleen, the oldest daughter of President Gordon B. Hinckley, has served as president of several auxiliary organizations and has been an active leader in her community. After both Kathleen and Richard lost their spouses in death, they met and were married in January of 2004. They live in Salt Lake City, Utah.
For where your treasure is,
there will your heart be also.
As we began our three-year journey in the temple, we quickly recognized that our ability to understand the spiritual meaning of its symbolic teachings was directly connected to the spiritual condition of our hearts. Normally we were required to arise at what felt like an unearthly hour. On those many mornings, as part of our wake-up process, and in an effort to appear alive and alert, we would often look at each other and ask, “Is your heart ready for this day?” The question sometimes made us groan, but we understood that our hearts had to be pure and prepared in order to understand the things of God taught in the temple. As we continually tried to condition our hearts, our ability to understand the spiritual meaning of the ordinances was greatly enlarged. For this reason we ask you to bring your heart as you take this journey with us.
There is an internationally recognized traveling exhibit entitled “Body Worlds, The Story of the Heart.” This exhibit centers on the development of the human body and is so powerful that one would have a hard time not accepting the fact that the human body could only have been created by a divine, intelligent, and loving Heavenly Father. The day we visited, we spent several hours viewing the various stages of human development. Over and over again we were profoundly impressed and awed by the magnificence of the divine creation of the human body. We reflected on the teachings of Elder Russell M. Nelson: “Think of the genesis of a human body. . . . Twenty-three chromosomes from each parent unite in one new cell. . . . Approximately 22 days after these cells unite, a tiny heart begins to beat” (“Faith in Jesus Christ,” 25).
One of the video presentations in the Body Worlds display explains that the first organ to function and give life to the body is the heart, and the last organ to stop functioning and end life is the heart. A nearby display board made the following statement: “Given all we know about the brain and the heart, emotions and love are still perceived to originate in the heart.” This is not new news to those who understand the Lord’s teachings concerning the heart.
The Lord created in each human being a heart, which symbolically becomes the center for the power of God’s love to grow and develop inside the human body. Through proper exercise of the gift of moral agency, this power of love will expand our capacity to become like God.
The Savior taught of the childlike qualities essential for each of us to develop spiritually. What is it about a child that is such a key to spiritual growth? Clearly it is the purity of a child’s heart, untainted and uncluttered by the world. A child sees and understands things with a pureness that often fades as people age and allow the world to influence their lives.
Kathleen: One day a young family came to the Salt Lake Temple to be sealed. A mother, father, and two little boys had prepared themselves for this beautiful and blessed day in their lives. After the sealing of the parents was completed, the two little boys were taken upstairs. As they exited the elevator and turned the corner toward the sealing room, the four-year-old stopped. With eyes full of love and wonder, he looked up and down and all around, and then in hushed tones said, “Where is Jesus? I know He is here!” Tears flowed from those around him as all felt the purity of this young boy’s heart.
The Savior’s challenge to each of us is: “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3–4).
This challenge requires constant attention and vigilance on our part to prevent the world from contaminating our hearts. In other words, every choice we make influences the spirituality of our hearts. The language we use, the clothes we wear, the places we go, the things we read and watch, are all taken into our minds and directly influence our hearts. It’s as the adage related to computers states: Garbage In—Garbage Out. The flip side of this statement might be: Goodness In—Goodness Out. The spiritual development of our hearts is controlled by the daily decisions we make. The world would oppose our spiritual development.
The prophet Nephi warned us of the plan of the adversary, which would impede the process of spiritually developing our hearts: “Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself” (2 Nephi 2:27).
Those who determine to make the choices that will enable them to follow the Savior on a daily basis will find that their hearts change, that they no longer have the desire to follow the world. They find joy in service to the Lord and to their fellow men, even though they live in the midst of a tumultuous world.
Richard: Some time ago a couple came to the temple in response to a letter inviting them to serve. As we talked with them, the wife was very reticent. She felt incapable of memorization and worried whether or not she fit the mold of a temple worker. But when the question was asked, “Are you willing to accept a call to serve in the temple?” she responded, “That decision was made the moment we got your letter.” Although fears and doubts were in their minds, their hearts were pure, and their decision to serve was the natural response of hearts purified through years of commitment and service to others.
When the Pharisee asked the Savior: “Which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment” (Matthew 22:36–38). Because the heart is the origin of physical life, it is also the origin of love. It must be pure in order to understand and follow the things of God.
When King Benjamin called the Nephites to the temple to give them his last address, he said: “Open your ears that ye may hear, and your hearts that ye may understand, . . . that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to your view” (Mosiah 2:9). Those who go to the temple with hearts prepared will make themselves available to the impressions and personal experiences we all desire, even personal revelation.
The scriptures are replete with teachings that emphasize the importance of the heart in understanding God. In Helaman 3:35, Helaman said of the faithful that they “did wax . . . firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God” (emphasis added).
Nephi taught this of the glory of the Millennium: “Because of the righteousness of his people, Satan has no power . . . for he hath no power over the hearts of the people, for they dwell in righteousness (1 Nephi 22:26).
And Alma admonished his people: “I wish from the inmost part of my heart . . . that ye would . . . be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering, . . . having the love of God always in your hearts” (Alma 13:27–29).
Kathleen: Another couple who came to the temple to be interviewed for a call to serve there told of how the experiences of their lives had convinced them that they needed to make a sacrifice of service to the Lord to somehow repay Him for all their blessings. They had volunteered and served two missions, back-to-back, thinking each would be a sacrifice. The wife said: “We wanted to do something really hard for the Lord, but the sacrifice always turned out to be a great blessing. We hope our service in the temple will really be hard and allow us to sacrifice and prove our love to the Lord.” It is obvious that their search for the “really hard sacrifice” will instead continue to be a great blessing in their lives because their choices have truly purified their hearts.
At a stake conference we attended, a young man, recently baptized into the Church, shared his testimony and stated: “It is so fun to be a teenager when you make the right choices.” The heart truly is the control center of the human body. This is why the Savior said: “For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts” (D&C 137:9; emphasis added).
Today in the world of modern medicine, there is much news about the miraculous advances that enable surgeons to perform open-heart surgery on the human body. Likewise, the Lord can and will perform spiritual heart surgery on us as we go the temple with hearts prepared to receive. This process was described by Alma the Younger when he recounted the experience of his father, Alma, responding to the teachings of Abinadi:
“And according to his faith there was a mighty change wrought in his heart . . . and a mighty change was also wrought in their hearts, and they humbled themselves and put their trust in the true and living God. . . . And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts? . . . Can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands?” (Alma 5:12–14, 19; emphasis added).
Richard: One day a rather mature couple came to the temple to be married. I was asked to perform their sealing. As I entered the room, I noticed immediately that they were not your usual couple. The bride was in her late forties, which set her apart from most of the youthful brides. She was a rather ordinary-looking woman from South America who had lived a hard life, including abusive relationships, a child born out of wedlock, and years of dissipation outside the Church. Then the Spirit began to touch her heart. She was introduced to the Church, and her heart was ready to receive. She came to the United States and met a fine man whose heart was full of love for the Lord and love for her. Together they committed their lives to one another and began to prepare to go to the temple to be married.
That day, as they entered the sealing room, the Spirit radiated from them. Their happiness and gratitude for the blessings of eternity spilled over and it was as if everyone in the room felt the deep love and the refined purity that rested in their hearts. As I began to perform their sealing, it was as though they were transformed before our eyes, and we saw this remarkably beautiful, worthy, and pure couple kneeling at the altar, their hearts filled with love for their Heavenly Father, for the temple, and for each other. Their hearts had been changed! Their hearts were pure and they were clean before God. On that day, in that sealing room, I believe they experienced complete joy.
Elder Gerald Lund has said that “the condition of our hearts directly affects our sensitivity to spiritual things. Let us make it a part of our everyday striving to open our hearts to the Spirit. Since we are the guardians of our hearts, we can choose to do so” (“Opening Our Hearts,” 34).
When we go to the temple, there are many things we do physically to prepare ourselves. Such things as getting a babysitter, putting dinner in the oven, cleaning our desk, and changing our clothes are all part of preparing physically to step out of our everyday world for a time. We should then begin to think about the temple, to try to lay the world aside in our hearts as well. We should examine our lives and ask ourselves whether there are any conditions there that would interfere with the Spirit. Are we truly worthy? Have we been dishonest in our dealings? Have we offended one of our family members or neighbors? Is there anything we could amend that would better allow the Spirit to teach us as we worship? Are we trying to purify our hearts?
Every two years we sit with our priesthood leaders and review the questions of temple worthiness. One of the most far-reaching questions requires us to evaluate our own worthiness to enter the temple. This is a question we should ask ourselves on an ongoing basis.
The heart is the very center of life, both physically and spiritually. In order for our hearts to remain physically and spiritually healthy, we need to make daily choices that will form habits of righteousness, enabling our hearts to progress in purity.
What am I doing to purify my heart and prepare myself to understand the spiritual things of God as taught in the temple?
Inspirational and Simple Stories
by DeAnn - reviewed on August 12, 2010
House of Learning was a very simple book to read. There were many inspirational stories that the authors share from their experience as Temple President and Matron. This would be a good gift for someone who has just gone through the temple for the first time.
by Heidi - reviewed on August 23, 2010
I have been attending the temple for 12 years. I have recently made an effort to expand and improve my experience there, and this book was a lovely guidepost on my journey. I loved the Walkers' insights and suggestions for improving and appreciating temple worship.
by Kathy - reviewed on October 01, 2010
This is a great book. No intense doctrine or thousands of scriptures quoted, no heavy reading or having to look up words - just the feelings and thoughts we have probably all shared in wanting to make our temple attendance more meaningful. I love the way the book is formatted -a general thought followed by personal testimonies of Bro. & Sis. Walker from their experiences as Pres. & Matron of the Salt Lake Temple. I hope more books are published in this format.
wonderful stories and inspirational thoughts
by Customer - reviewed on September 14, 2010
My husband and I read this together so that we could both get more insights and be more in tune with our Temple sessions. I loved reading about the stories that they shared in this book on other peoples experiences. I would recommend this book to everyone. This is a really easy book to read and worth the time that it takes to read it.