We headed towards the temple, the trek to which brought us to our first bookstore--a Borders where Sam purchased a book out of the bargain bin for a dollar.
We arrived earlier than the appointment time I was given when I called ahead to make sure we didn't need an appointment, which I was told by someone else the previous day. We met the security guard--really nice, big guy with a ponytail and sunglasses. He reminded me of one of my martial arts instructors--nice as could be, a gentle giant type, but you won't catch me crossing them wrong in an alley. I know better.
Seeing as we were early, we had to wait for the brethren to return from performing other ordinances. I can't say that I minded. I like having time to linger for as long as possible in the temple. We had scriptures to keep us company, and I spent quite some time with the Psalms (the end of 119 to about 127.) I couldn't have asked for a more appropriate set of psalms to help me. The Lord truly does hear the pleas of His children--especially in His holy house.
And I must say, His house in Manhattan is beautiful. If I'm not mistaken, that's the most marble I've ever seen inside a temple. I've only been to 3 baptisteries so far, so it's not like I have too much experience to speak from--but the feel it gave to the rooms I did see was very distinct. It felt wonderful beneath my sore feet, even if I was sopping wet. After being in the grimy, humid, fuming, sweaty, stinking streets of New York City, it felt inexpressibly refreshing to be in a place as clean, cool, and quiet as the temple--a pearl, if you will, in a smoke-filled room. And I had just been washed clean--for myself and on behalf of someone else. There's nothing like that feeling anywhere else in the world--especially not in a city.
I was never one for the hustle and bustle of a noisy city anyway, and it honestly felt like we were back to it way too soon. That's never an easy transition for me. The temple is the place where I feel most like myself, the only place where I feel like I'm ever enough, where all my efforts ever count for anything at all. It's the most comfortable place in the world to me, and I'm rejoice that He supports me until I can return again. Without that blessing, I can honestly say I would not be able to survive.
Soon enough, however, it was time to return to the world that makes such support necessary--the Test, the tasks at hand that seemed to surround me outside of my head for a change in the swarms of taxis, changing lights, and the babbling stream of strangers that treat the temple (and Him whose house it is) the same way they treat each other--with no regard that anyone was even there. Ignoring people seems to be a way of life in New York, which I find to be exhausting. Not only is it contrary to my nature, it takes a lot of energy to block out that much noise and movement. They don't make enough iPods for that from where I'm standing.
Thankfully, we saw the Museum of Biblical Art (their site is here) and we stopped in to see what that was. I was glad we did. It was really interesting to see the Christian devotion of the 16th century Netherlands preserved so carefully, and what we were able to learn because of it. The drawings were so detailed, and I saw things in them that surprised me--like the baptismal font, complete with the goats/ livestock that were bearing it upon their backs. One had the Table of Shewbread too. There was one Bible that had drawings of all the sacred artifacts of the tabernacle.
My favorite print of the day had to be the one of Jael with a hammer getting ready to put a tent stake through Sisera's head. I couldn't take a picture, but to see her anachronistically drawn in medieval getup with that docile look on her face (not unlike the one usually reserved for the Virgin Mary) with a giant hammer in her hand--it was so random as to almost be comical. Those old European loonies may have thought women were the devil (as clearly presented in their portrayals of Eve) but at least they knew a good story when they heard one.
They had a few other pieces in another room that had nothing to do with European woodcuts. Someone decided it was a good idea to take sacred texts and make things out of them. Hand shaped boxes, things like that. There were also pictures on the wall of dilapidated Bibles that were found after Hurricane Katrina. I found it to be VERY unsettling. There was a picture of a Bible held together by mere threads of its original binding, and I almost wanted to cry. Call me dramatic if you wish, but I cannot endure seeing such carnage on a book any more than if it were a real person.
We moved on, stopping briefly in a Starbucks to rest. We didn't buy anything. We had $2 of my parents' money left, and that isn't even enough money to pay someone to look at you in New York.
All in all, it was a really nice day. I'll remember it fondly in the few hours I have before I start getting ready to leave for Palmyra. More on that when I return.
I bear my testimony that the Lord lives, that if you search for Him you can find Him anywhere and everywhere--even in the Big Apple, where the sin may not be original but it's certainly enough to get you down. Ask and ye shall receive. Knock and it shall be opened unto you. In the name of Him that makes it possible, even Jesus Christ. AMEN