Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Foundation Cracks

I taught a primary class a few months ago about the foundation of the Salt Lake Temple.   In Relief Society the same day the lesson was on the same thing so I had a lot of time to think about it.  The story of the Salt Lake Temple foundation is really fascinating.  After the Saints had been in the Salt Lake Valley for about 5 years Brigham Young said that it was time to start building a temple.  Over the next 5 or so years they built a foundation of red sandstone and mortar that was 8 feet deep.   At this point they learned that General Johnston's army was coming.

Brigham Young was concerned that the invading army would damage the temple foundation and so he had the workers take down the work buildings and bury the foundation so the army wouldn't even know it was there. The army was in Utah for 4 years.  After they left and the workers took the dirt up from the foundation they discovered cracks in the sandstone blocks.  The architect told Brigham Young that there was no way that the foundation would be able to support the granite temple they had planned.   Eventually Brigham Young decided that they would have to take all of the sandstone foundation blocks out and rebuild the foundation with granite blocks.   Replacing the foundation blocks with granite took 9 more years.

When I was young I always looked at the  invasion of Johnston's army as a huge inconvenience to the Saints. Not only did they have to deal with the unpleasantness of the invasion,  but they had to cover over the temple foundation with difficult results.  I haven't thought about the story in years,  but after teaching it in one class and then hearing it again in the next, I started to think about it differently.  Instead of thinking "How awful and inconvenient that the Saints had to go though this," I had the thought "what a blessing that Johnston's army came along at exactly the right time."   "What a blessing that the foundation was buried under enough dirt for a long enough time to allow the sandstone to do what it was going to do anyway."   Which was crack.

As these thoughts rolled around in my brain during Relief Society that day they ended up looking an awfully lot like these thoughts.  That sometimes really hard things happen to expose cracks in our foundation while they are easier to deal with.  That sometimes we have long trials that delay our moving forward because important information hasn't come to light yet.  That we really only see a tiny part of the full picture in any given moment.

I know all too well some of the cracks that have been exposed in me because of the trials of the last two years.  But I wonder--did our family foundation need to be rebuilt somewhere else?  When we can see the whole story one day (and I have no doubt the we will be able to) what will we see and say, "Oh, of course.  THIS is why it was so important."

And most importantly, can I start looking at difficult experiences in this new way?

We have a new beautiful picture of the Salt Lake Temple in our dining room here in Oregon.  Every time I look at it I need to remind myself how grateful I am for Johnston's army.  For the cracks that were exposed.  For the unbelievable effort the pioneers went to to replace that foundation, so that the temple would still be standing today.


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  3. Now I understand your comment on my Facebook post! What a wonderful truth.
    I once read something by a great writer (unfortunately I can't remember who it was, because I would love to re-read it) that said that sometimes we believe that we have a great big castle of faith, but it's really just a castle made of cards. Then God gives us something that knocks down our card castle and helps us realize that our faith is not, actually, sufficient, and that we must continue growing closer to Him until we have the faith to be saved.
    On another note, I'm hoping to write a short story over the weekend about Joseph (Jacob's son) and "inconveniences..."

  4. Oh how I hope this is true. I feel like I am in a crack-revealing phase. I love the thought that I can fix the problem, albeit with a lot of effort, because I sometimes worry that I'm just a bad person for having cracks. Silly, but true.

  5. Cindy, do you mind if I share this on Facebook?

  6. Someone told this story today in Sacrament Meeting!

  7. Someone told this story today in Sacrament Meeting!