Mary Oliver asks in a poem, “Where does the temple begin? Where does it end?” It seems an apt question. There is so much that is sacred in existence and in human interactions. One day I came from receiving ordinances in the temple—where my heart burned with real joy—to my home, where that morning I had spent some time in my young sleepless son's bed and where I was honored to tuck that same four-year-old son, Emerson, into bed. That is a sacred ritual of story and song and communion, and my heart burned with the same light. I wrote this poem. It’s called “Friday at the Temple.” Hineni is what Abraham answered when God called him, and Samuel, and Jesus.
Friday at the Temple
I have known angels,
have seen them in all shapes and sizes—
sometimes silhouetted in the distant streaking sun,
flitting lithely as swallows in spring.
But more often I have known them up close,
slender, stern, portly, pleasant.
They have laid hands on my head—
sometimes hands heavy with the weight of glory,
sometimes a touch so light and brief it could have been a passing fly,
stopping for an instant in benediction on my skull.
Either way, it has been a blessing to be ministered to
in that way: washed with light,
anointed with luminescence,
clothed in brilliant radiance.
This morning as I snuggled my young son in bed,
I fell asleep, awakened to the sound of his voice:
“Dad, did you say Hey Em?”
No. “I thought I heard someone say that.”
Maybe it was an angel, I told him.
He got quiet for a minute, and I lay back down.
When he next spoke, his face was close to mine,
his bright eyes shining. “Maybe it was Jesus,” he said.Maybe it was. I should have told him to answer, Hineni.
Here I am.
(The picture is called "Untitled (Angels)" by Brian Kershisnik)