Two months ago I began a new job. On the morning of my first day, I remember thinking, "I should take a book with me - you know, to read during lunch or something." Quickly scanning the bookshelf, I grabbed an older looking book called The Holy Temple by Boyd K. Packer. The lessons taught from that old book would soon surprise me.
The book has been republished several times. My book was from the first printing in 1980, a hard-cover book with a grey cover and an image of a handle that can be found on the doors of the Salt Lake Temple. Inside the front cover is an inscription to my parents. "Dear Brent and Ginger," it reads. "On this important event, we wish you all the choicest blessings of the Lord as you begin another eternal family." After a few more words, it was signed by my parents then-bishopric.
Reading that inscription made the book much more important to me. I imagined my 31-years-younger and unmarried parents. They had no idea what lay ahead. How can a young couple prepare for seven children and all that accompanies them? Very carefully indeed. I'm not certain, but I feel confident in saying that my parents read this book together as they began their vicious and vivacious voyage known as 'marriage.'
A better part of the book addresses the doctrine behind temples: why we have them, what is done in them, what their role is in the eternities. I can't tell you how many times "turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers" appeared on the pages. Elder Packer outlines the origin of temple ordinances, the role of Elijah, and the restoration in the Latter days. He also explains the importance of making and keeping the covenants made within the holy walls of the temple. The chapters are truly a textual feast, requiring a vigilant eye for complete comprehension.
Admittedly, this portion of the book was somewhat difficult for me to enjoy. Not that I found its teaching unimportant, because I do, but because I was not giving the information its due attention. In retrospect I wish I would have a notepad and pen with my scriptures nearby. So much information is fascinating during the moments of reading, but I find it hard to reproduce. "I read the most amazing chapter today, but I can't tell you what it was about." Internalizing the information was difficult for me.
The last section of the book fortified the link between temples and family history. They are one and the same, actually. Elder Packer expounded on the extreme importance for each member of the church to discover their family story. It is not enough to go to the temple to perform ordinances for names that have been found. Good, yes. Best? No. As I finished the final page of the book I felt a new vigor for family history. It is the most important work we can do on Earth and in heaven.
Why is it so important? Read the book. You'll understand why. I always considered family history to be something we can do on the side if we have time when we're older. Only now do I realize that this is to be a priority in my life.
But how to begin....