Kids and the Temple

Jun 10, 2013
2 min read

2013-06-09 13.37.27

I posted this photo on Instagram yesterday and have been thinking about kids and the temple. According to Val Brinkerhoff in an interview with temple architect Keith Stepan, the Las Vegas and Portland Oregon temples were the first for over 100 years to restore the use of celestial symbolism  on the outside of the buildings. Since then, the level of detail and design on the outside of temples has seemed to increase dramatically.

Today, I have noticed that the symbolism is everywhere, from the fence to the gardens and fountains and it is a joy to explore and discover.

I have 3 young daughters between the ages of 2 and 7 who I often take on “Daddy-daughter dates” to the temple. The grounds are peaceful and beautiful and as we walk around, we look at the symbols on the temple and the plants and patterns that are all around us. We talk about what things might mean and study different doctrines and principles according to the child’s understanding.

Kids get symbols. They can learn them just like any language and they are really good at it.

In the picture that was drawn by my 7 year old (without any help), she created a temple that had the celestial bodies in the correct order: the moon at the bottom, the sun and then the stars up top. She also drew a fence that features a squared circle motif and what is interesting is that this is different from the Las Vegas temple. She either observed it elsewhere or realized the importance of weaving symbols into the fence design.

I found the temple flanked by two trees interesting because of the consistent patterns of the number 2 associated with trees that is used on many temples (possibly in connection with the two trees in the garden of Eden, man and woman can be symbolized by two trees as well).

The only thing that’s really off is the Moroni statue; if the temple is facing east in this drawing, then Moroni is facing north. Moroni is usually facing east and sometimes south east like on the Las Vegas and a few other temples.

I wanted to share this to point out the value in bringing anyone to the temple, whether they are children, teens or even people not of our faith. The grounds and building itself are filled with teachings, doctrine and principles that all can benefit from. It is a wonderful place, even on the outside, to meditate and receive revelation.

I’m grateful that such a place exists.


  1. Richard J. Nobbe III

    What a precious post about your tender experiences with your children! Thank you for your testimony – us adults have so much to learn from children. As a high school music teacher, my kids always teach me more than I could ever teach them.

    I know it’s self-evident, and that’s probably the reason that you didn’t mention it in the post itself, but it’s no wonder that your daughter also used the numbers 2, 3, and 7 throughout her drawing too. It’s also worth noting that when she drew this, your daughter was 7, your youngest daughter was 2, and you have 3 total daughters.

    I’m fascinated by the doorway. The two doors are shaped in the vesica piscis symbol, and if you put them together, they make one large vesica piscis symbol, (so again, the symbolism of 1, 2, and 3). It’s also worth noting that the doors are closed, meaning the Temple is there for us but WE need to enter inside to partake of the blessings therein.

    It’s neat to note that the moons gradually phase from the left to the right.

    One more point – especially at the risk of over-analyzing such a precious child’s picture – but I couldn’t help but notice that the Angel Moroni has 3 valves on his trumpet. And as a music teacher, I think it’s fascinating that we use the “trumpet” as a symbol of the return of the “Son of God” to the earth. Nearly all trumpets have three valves, and three slides. This enables the Trumpet to play all 7 notes of the scale, and all 12 chromatic pitches. So, at least in this instance, 3 enables 7 and 12.

    Here’s something else to think about: Being a musician, I have always thought that the music in the temple is sacred and there for a reason. I’m not as familiar with the music that accompanies the new endowment film as I’ve only had the opportunity to see it a few times, but one of the older films featured music where the main musical motif, (that repeated again, and again, and again), featured the simple movement of the octave, or “8.” Besides the symbolism of the number 8 itself, the octave is the most naturally reoccurring musical interval in nature and science. This is very appropriate as much of this music was played during the creation scenes. (Incidentally, I happen to know the person who composed the music. Just like your article on the architect who designed the San Diego Temple, the composer of the music wasn’t aware of the symbolism behind the music he was creating).

    • Great observations. Some might dismiss children’s drawings as worthless, but they create from a very pure and unadulterated perspective. They don’t think too much about what they create but are guided by what they feel instead.

      The musical observations are worth exploring. I’m musically illiterate for the most part. I can sing along pretty well, but my understanding of the principles are almost non-existant. It’s one of those things on my list to explore more!

      • Richard J. Nobbe III

        I personally have learned a lot about the Gospel from music, and I’m not just talking about the latest EFY CD! ; )

        One of my Church callings at the moment is Ward Choir Director. One of the things I invite my participants to do each week is to sing along with each part, (soprano, alto, tenor, and bass), while we are learning a particular Hymn. So this means that each soprano, for instance, has the opportunity to learn the alto, tenor and bass parts as well as her own “soprano” line. I have all sections do this. At the end, many participants come up to me and are happy because they have discovered new beautiful melodies, harmonies, rhythms, and other musical elements that they have never noticed before.

        I think this is symbolic of at least a few things. For one, they have discovered at least three or four new ways to look at the same thing. Each line is totally different, but they work to perfectly complete the music. And all the parts end up being greater together than the sum of the their individual worth, (an alto line sung alone is lifeless, but if you fuse it together with the three other parts, the “whole” music becomes perfect).

        It’s sort of like having the 4 Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Each one of the Gospels is unique, written from a specific perspective TO a specific group of people. But they all work together to give us a great narrative of the Savior’s life, mission, Church, doctrine, etc… I’m sure someone like you can fathom a plethora of additional examples.

        I have a lot I would love to share with you about music and the Gospel. There is an infinite amount of symbolism in music, and it is probably the closest thing we have to the Adamic language. I’m sure you’re familiar with certain things that happened in the upper rooms of the Kirtland Temple, for instance.

    • Music is something I wish I knew more about as I am mostly illiterate in that field. I’ve observed that kids tend to create based on what they feel rather than by thinking to much about it, therefore their art is more unadulterated and can reflect archetypal truths embedded within our nature.

      I don’t think this ever leaves us. Most of the time when art is created, we tend to that which just seems to ‘feel’ right.

  2. Richard J. Nobbe III

    Also, one more thing! It’s interesting when most artists paint a 2-D picture meaning to represent a 3-D object, they often have the object face to the right, as there is really no better way to represent it. It’s fascinating to me that your daughter almost instinctively knew, as I think most kids do, to put the a sacred emblem to the RIGHT and not to the left. In a special way, it really does mean Straight-Forward.

  3. Richard J. Nobbe III

    Incidentally, I’m not an expert in art or architecture, so I really don’t know if my “faces to the right” comment has any true merit or not. Just some of my observations over the years.

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