I love bringing you along with me, side by side, as I shoot pictures of the holiest places on earth.  Are you willing to get up very early?  And move very quickly?  Come with me to the morning of the dedication of the Sacramento California Temple.  In this essay I have not included any people (we will do other pieces with lots of people).  I just want you to bask in the early morning light and the magnificence of this holy edifice.

First, a Pitch for Meridian

Maurine and I have been able to attend 10 temple dedications, seven of which we were blessed to be in the very temple (the other three were in our stake centers or in the Tabernacle on Temple Square).  This past weekend we spent a lot of time crying tears of gratitude for this immense privilege of being in these places with such wonderful people — including, of course, the Prophet.

If you haven’t seen any of the other temple essays we have done you certainly can save this page somewhere and I’ll give you the links to those other dedications. 

If you haven’t seen the coverage we did of Nauvoo, you must go there.  It’s all under one roof with a simple URL:  www.ldsmag.com/nauvoo  We published 28 separate pieces on Nauvoo (the most comprehensive coverage of any news source in the world).  Well over a million people read these photo essays and articles — and that was back when Meridian was a relative newcomer, only 40 months old.

I know I’m going to show you the Sacramento California Temple today, but I also wanted to invite you to go to Africa to see all the coverage we did of the Accra Ghana Temple Dedication.  That, too, is an easy URL: www.ldsmag.com/ghana We published 15 separate pieces on Ghana (again, the most coverage, by far, of any news source in the world).  This includes the first youth celebration ever done to herald the building of a new temple.  If you want to have a great day, just sit down and read some of those essays.  It will lift your spirit to higher heights and bring tears to your eyes to see how the kingdom is growing.

Now quickly, here are the others:

Freiberg Germany and The Hague Netherlandswww.ldsmag.com/prophettour  This section of Meridian includes President Hinckley’s trip to Moscow, Russia and is very photo rich.

The Manhattan New York Templehttp://www.ldsmag.com/churchupdate/040617manhattan1.html  (that’s in 11 parts)
Oh, and here is the youth celebration at Radio City Music Hall:
http://www.ldsmag.com/churchupdate/040622Jubilee1.html (that one is in 5 parts)

And here’s the San Antonio Temple Dedication:
http://www.ldsmag.com/churchupdate/050601heart.html and also here:
http://www.ldsmag.com/churchupdate/050527sanantonio.html
and this story:
http://www.ldsmag.com/churchupdate/050526ceremony.html
and here is the youth celebration at the Alamodome:
http://www.ldsmag.com/churchupdate/050525youth1.html

We will also be heading to Finland next month to cover the Helsinki Temple Dedication and Celebration.  Since we can’t all go, I bring my camera and try to give you a front-row seat to as many events as we possibly can.  And, of course, soon we will be adding the stories from hundreds of Meridian Correspondents (part of the new Meridian Press Corps) from around the world.

Okay, so I’ve given you the pitch that shows why we refer to Meridian Magazine as “The Place Where Latter-day Saints Gather — Online.”  Now let’s go to Sacramento.

Before the Crack of Dawn

We were not exactly sure when the sun would rise or when that first light would touch the Angel Moroni high atop the spire of the Sacramento California Temple.  We always arrive very early, usually so early that only the security guards are there to greet us.

The nightlights were all still on and the mixture of the artificial light under the archways (and up the spire) with the natural light was very warm.

I love searching for angles to shoot the temples.  There are some perspectives that are just pleasing to the senses.  There is symmetry and truth in architecture.  I believe that leading lines and angles draw us close to the heavens and even lift our spirits and cause us to change our thinking if we will let it happen.

This temple sits on 47 very special acres high atop a hill that overlooks this beautiful area — most know it as Mormon Center.  It certainly has a unique entry road and a wonderful view.

This is one of those angles that I love.  It reminds me of some of the amazing architecture we have seen in the ancient temples of Egypt and in Greece.  The granite that covers this temple came from China.

They call this temple a “medium-sized” one.  It is 19,500 square feet.  The Salt Lake Temple is the largest at 253,000 square feet (including the annex).  Other comparisons are the Los Angeles Temple at 190,000 square feet; the San Diego Temple at 72,000 square feet; the Oakland Temple at 95,000; and Palmyra New York at 10,700.

I always remind myself when I photograph this inscription on any temple that these same words should be inscribed on my own soul.  I always think of those telling questions of Alma the Younger to the members of the Church in the cities and villages throughout the land of the Nephites:  “Have ye spiritually been born of God?  Have ye received his image in your countenances?  Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?”  (See Alma 5: 14)  The temple is indeed ‘Holiness to the Lord.’

When I see this inscription I think of the Apostle Paul, who reminded us who we really are:  “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”  (See 1 Corinthians 3: 16)  The Spirit of the Lord is certainly here in this temple.  I remember coming through the underground parking lot of the Johannesburg South Africa Temple and as the doors opened for us to walk into that temple, it was as if we were passing from this world into another world — you could feel the Spirit of the Lord so strongly.  It was as if we were passing through a wall.  It was tangible.

Again, can you feel the leading lines here drawing us inward and upward.  The sun had not arisen yet (this shot was taken at 6:30:07 am, to be accurate) but the glow of the morning light was starting to wash the walls of the temple.

I love the windows of each of the temples.  I have studied and photographed them for years.  When I am inside the temple with outside light pouring in (like in the celestial room in Sacramento), I think of the scripture in Section 88:  “And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings [think about the ramifications of that statement!]; which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space — the light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things.


”  (See Doctrine and Covenants 88: 11-13)  Wow.