December 14, 1933
Robert W. Smith, Esq. Salt Lake City, Utah
Dear Brother Smith:
I am pleased to answer your letter of December 1st-first as to the letter of a non-member who wrote of "impressions" received while going through the Temple before it was dedicated, the truth of which letter you ask me to verify and which I am pleased to do.
It was a Quaker lady who was a magazine writer from eastern Canada. She has some relatives in Lethbridge, about 60 miles from Cardston; and being so deeply impressed on her first visit, she had them bring her a second time -this time I was acting as guide. She would sit in each room and never said a word to any in the company, but seemed to be in deep meditation all the time.
When she reached her own home several weeks after, she wrote this letter which has caused so much comment all over the Church. We have never been able to understand how she seemed to know so much about our faith and our belief in our future life and works after death. I never learned her real name. She visited us along in 1921. I have never heard from her since that time, but the letter is genuine, and of her own "impressions!" received while in the Temple while on the two visits she mentions.
Sincerely your Brother,
0/S Elder J. Wood, Pres. Alberta Stake
This is her actual letter of her visions:
We have been to the Temple erected by your church wherein are to be performed the sacred rites in accordance with your faith. The first time I was strongly impelled to describe to you my impressions. I did so but before the completion of the letter, I received some news that so affected me that acting upon the spur of the moment, I destroyed the document in its entirety.
The continued feeling within me of dissatisfaction as to something left undone, coupled with the desire upon the part of the members of my household who had not visited the temple, led to our second visit to Cardston, in which you so kindly consented to accompany us, notwithstanding the inclement weather and personal inconvenience to yourself which the journey entailed.
It was because of this and many other evidences of your friendship that has given me the privilege to presume to bother you with what after all may be foolish fantacies of a too impressionable mentality. To me it does seem so, for never before in my life have such powerful impressions been infringed upon my inner consciousness as during my visit thru the Temple. Especially was this true at our second visit. The impressions of our first visit were repeated with such overwhelming intensity and variety of detail that I must positively inform you of my experience.
It seems to me it were a sacred duty upon my part to do this, and knowing as I do that your friends will lightly ridicule what to me is a personal matter, I am going to give you in detail my experience in the hope, that if it is well, maybe it is something more than imagination, that you and others of your faith may wisely analyze and correctly use whatever may be gleaned from this letter.
A fortress in time of storm, was the first thought that shaped itself in my mind with my first view of this ancient, yet modern temple; mellowed with the spiritual usage of ancient civilization and customs, yet alert, virile, and watchful.
A grand, solemn, strong, beautiful, useful house of spiritual progression which seemed to be the embodiment of architectural expression of ancient civilization and glories suddenly re-incarnated and for a future and higher civilization than our own. Strength and beauty exaggerated the more flimsy houses and buildings of the town and gave a painfully obvious example of how the soul within is expressed thru the material body, either in the individual or nation, or a race, either in the man or his architecture. Try how I would I could not get away from the feeling that the town itself was inferior to the latest building, so new and yet so old. Even the electric lights failed to change this thought, that the Temple and the town represented two different epochs of humanitys spiritual development expressed in architecture. The town embodied the present epoch, science, art, invention harnessed purely for trade or commerce, irrespective of past or future development. The Temple embodies the accumulated knowledge of the ancient world combined with the modern inventions of science and inspiration as the road to a higher future development so near at hand. Let me put it down even another way.
There is a place called Cardston. A Temple linking the past with the present has been built at Cardston and the town has become a collection of flimsy huts nestling at the foot of the Temple which will continue to function for the spiritual purposes for which it is raised.
Just as the exterior impressions compared with the present and future epochs so did the interior also reflect comparison. Of the beautiful and artistic effects I need not dwell; abler pens can describe the interior from this viewpoint. Sufficient for me to say that the shape of the Temple is a cross, that each apartment is symbolical in artistic and structural effects of some stage of humanity's progress thru the ages. In fact, everything physical is a stepping stone to spiritual progress as such is typified in these ceremonies.
All this was kindly and intelligently explained to us by Mr. Duce on one occasion and by Mr. Wood on the second visit; but I am afraid I was very indifferent and inattentive upon both occasions, for which I tender them my sincere apologies. I had no intentions of being rude or discourteous, but from the moment of entering the Temple until leaving, I was placed in the position of having, as it were, to listen to and grasp a dual narrative all the time, with the result that so engrossed was I at times that I am afraid I was so absent-minded as to appear inattentive if not positively stupid.
I have stated that my impression of the exterior of the building was that of a place of waiting for a higher civilization than our present one. This would suggest a condition of emptiness, but that is not what I mean. An ordinary newly erected building has no atmosphere at all until it has been inhabited some time; after which, it has, as it were, a living atmosphere. What kind of an atmosphere this is, is largely determined by the spiritual development and thought of the persons using and inhabiting the building. This applies especially to places of worship or consecration, and is very noticeable to a sensitive person. Sometimes such an atmosphere is agreeable, exalting, etc.; sometimes very much the reverse, depending upon the spiritual harmony or otherwise of the persons under this atmospheric rule; but was not so as far as it was concerned while outside the Temple.
I could not understand the overwhelming scene of ancient atmosphere which the building actually possessed in its very granite blocks in spite of the fact that I know a few months previous these stones had been laid, yet the feeling of age predominated. I dismissed the feeling as well as I could by thinking that the place of the structure was responsible for the suggestion of age, but when I entered the Temple, how quickly I found there was nothing to suggest to me that present atmosphere of which I have spoken, but was it empty? Emphatically no! Time and again as I listened to the speaker explaining some phase of the building or its meaning, I would be seeing beyond him some illustration of kaleidoscopic nature, depicting what he was describing, only more completely and vividly. The characters were so plain to me that I required all my self control to keep silent from room to room. This continued and only ceased when we were out in the frost and snow once more.
There was no set plan for presenting these pictures to me. It seemed as if when I thought something mental, a picture instantly presented itself in explanation of some word of the conductor, which would have the same effect. I was not afraid, only awed by the wonder of it all and the fearful impressive feeling that I received which seemed to imbed every little detailed scene into my brain, from which it will ever remember and record; and vivid as all of it was, these incidents herein related are the ones upon which I received instructions.
The scenes which I observed of an historical character seemed chiefly to verify and amplify the speaker's outline of past history, and so I do not feel impressed to record such, except to state that the same patriarchal characters whom I observed directing and influencing the early movements of the Church, were the same down through every age and epoch, and as the scenes advanced to more modern times, I saw among these spiritual characters and counselors, persons whose features I had previously observed as being in the material body on other historical occasions.