Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Building the Kingdom, Stone by Stone

At the start of my mission I was struggling to reconcile how much effort we were expending--physical and otherwise--and how little progress we were seeing while trying to build up a small branch. Somehow, I thought of the builders of the Salt Lake Temple. It took them 40 years to build the temple, and my understanding is that it was all done by the general membership, without pay. I imagined what it would be like to work in the quarry--cutting stones every day and sending them off the in the wagon. Did those guys feel like they were making a difference? Did they feel like they were building the kingdom? Perhaps they did, but I imagine there were some days where they felt like all of the hard work was yielding slow, if any, progress. What about the skilled artists who carved the stone designs? I imagine their job was slightly more rewarding, but still after several years it would have become monotonous. A person who was 20 when the building began would have been 60 when it finished. The fact that it was finished is a testament to the faith and diligence of the people.

Of course there are many stories of faith in Mormon history, the most obvious of which is the Mormon pioneers with their handcarts walking across the continent seeking religious freedom. But what makes the building of the temple special as well is that it was not under extreme circumstances. These were normal people, going about their normal, daily lives, who were also doing something great over a long period of time.

Now, whenever I feel like progress is going slow, I think of the man in the quarry.


Paul said...

Great entry; I thank you for it.

It has been said often enough, “The race is not given to the swift, nor to the strong, but unto those who shall endure until the end.”

Here is a ‘sermon’ that I enjoyed reading, which has to do with this same idea:

It’s more about overcoming adversity than tedium, but it does suggest that we need to overcome aspects of ‘time’ as well as ‘circumstances.’ I wonder what’s worse? We have heard that ‘an idle mind is the devil’s playground,’ so maybe that has something to do with it as well, i.e., staying intellectually active in all of our daily, routine tasks. I’ll readily admit that staying awake or intellectually active in church is a challenge. Listening to many talks and class lessons is like repeating grade three year after year. For many years now, and for the most part, I go away no more enlightened than when I came in – something reminiscent of the time when I was a Catholic going to mass. The only difference is during the time I partake of the sacrament. This is what mainly keeps me from not going to church at all. This is the difference between the LDS church and the Catholic church.

I realize that it is ‘supposedly’ (although I don’t know where in canonized scripture it says that, other than to partake of the sacrament ‘often’) a commandment to attend all of your meetings, and I understand the wisdom in this, for the fact, at least, it manifests support for the church, especially when it comes to newer members. But I am definitely in the most bleak and boring ‘quarry’ when I am there. It does not excite me any more, as the enthusiasm has waned. So, I suppose this is my current challenge: to keep going and building a ‘temple’ of outward manifested support.

Horebite said...

Thanks for your comment. I understand your frustration at meetings sometimes. I was a ward missionary before my current calling. We put a lot of effort into creating a ward mission plan, and one part of that plan which I feel was inspired was the goal of increasing the spirituality of our meetings. This would have the effect both of increasing the testimony of the members, and their desire to serve the gospel, as well as help visiting investigators feel the spirit. Shortly after I was released and am now a primary teacher, so I don't know the current state of things in the adult classes.