Monday, August 22, 2016

Philadelphia Open House

Cory and I have been wanting to take the children to a temple open house for ages, but there aren’t that many opportunities to do so on the East coast. When we heard about the open house in Philly, we were eager to try.
We drove up to Pennsylvania (well, New Jersey) on a Friday afternoon. The drive was surprisingly pleasant. We stayed at a hotel in New Jersey. Saturday morning we checked-out and drove the half hour to the temple in Philadelphia.
We parked in the garage under the temple, came up through the visitor’s center, and walked across the street to the beautiful red brick chapel. The chapel has its own courtyard, from which one can see the temple spires.

After a ten-minute video about temples, our group walked across the street. The shoe covers (which look like shower caps) were one-size-fits all, so we pocketed a set in case little Q wanted to be set down. Mothers with younger babies had them in baby carriers. Ah, those were the days.
In the entrance to the temple, behind the recommend desk, is a beautiful painting of Christ. The picture is “framed” with columns and a roof-like peak. In the ornamentation above the peak I saw two crossed quills. 
K commented to an usher on the "nice chandeliers" in the entry. The usher pointed to a painting, off to the side, of the Founding Fathers in (I think) Independence Hall. The chandelier in that painting was a near match to the ones in the temple entry.
The single painting and the carved quills, while subtle, were touching to me. They seemed a fitting tribute to the men who laid a foundation for religious freedom, displayed in a building that only exists thanks to religious freedom.
Most of the art in the temple was either of Christ or his creations (landscapes). In one stairwell is a large print of Christ with two native American girls.
As we walked through the temple, I noticed a lot of colonial inspiration: colonial-style dressers in one hall, sconces on walls that looked like old candle-holders, American cherry wood stair steps with a colonial-style (carpet) runner  running up them, and so forth.
There is a captivating mural in an instruction room. It was like playing I-spy with the children: do you see the bald eagle? The woodpeckers? The butterfly? I wished we could have stayed there longer.
The Celestial room is full of light, which is remarkable in such a big building with art glass--really the whole interior was full of light. Maybe all the lights were on, but there didn't seem to be a dark corner anywhere. Being with my husband and all my children in the Celestial room has been a dream of mine, although I'm not sure it counts during an open house. I hope they felt God's love for them. I looked down and realized S had a handful of Legos out on the area rug--he must have brought them in himself. I suspect that may be the only time that happens there. Little Q began testing the acoustics in the Celestial room, and Cory hurried him out.

My daughter had been waiting to see the bride’s room, where women can get ready for their special day with the help of her mother, sisters, or friends. I don’t think she was disappointed. The bride’s room was large and beautiful, with formal furnishings and a sparkling chandelier. The guide in that room said she would be married in five weeks in that temple, and she would get to come to this room on her special day to be “pampered.” 
The tour finished in a large sealing room, where couples get married and families sealed for all eternity. My children kept trying to see their reflection go on forever in the mirrors that face each other. It doesn't work that way. You can see your family go on forever, but you block your own view of yourself. There's probably a lesson there.
From the rooftop garden on the Visitor’s Center, there is a lovely view of the temple. I imagine this would be an ideal place to take family photos.

While we were in the city anyway, we headed over to see the Liberty Bell. Sadly, the all the tickets for Independence Hall were gone by the time we checked (shortly after noon on a Saturday), but we had a good time anyway, and the kids earned some history flashcards from a park ranger.
This fun picture (above) was actually taken in the Visitor's Center. It's way too crowded around the real bell to get a great shot without strangers in it. Well, maybe if you're there at opening you can. We weren't.

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