I get how we save our dead. We do the temple ordinances they can’t physically do themselves. But how we can’t be saved without them has somewhat eluded me. I’m sure I have had it explained to me before, probably countless times, but you know how sometimes the planets align just so and the light bulb flashes on in your brain?
1. Finished; complete; consummate; not defective; having all that is requisite to its nature and kind; as a perfect statue; a perfect likeness; a perfect work; a perfect system.
That part of the epiphany came during the first lesson. This part came today:
Really, it’s not a single, long strand that we are working on. Actually it’s more like...
Through our temple ordinances we are sealed as families and our links go up and down, side to side and even diagonally as we are connected as husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters. Just like the links in chainmail.
I didn’t realize there were so many different patterns that could be made from chainmail. They are each so unique and beautiful. Just like each family is unique and beautiful. And that was part of my epiphany, that the links forged go beyond the ordinances performed in our holy temples. Links are formed and patterns are made as we are entwined through our mortal experiences; and as we learn about our ancestors, and their traditions and stories are infused in our lives.
Traditions create patterns. One of my favorite traditions handed down to me by my mother was the reading of “The Littlest Angel” on Christmas Eve. When I have done that with my children I feel a closeness to my mother who is on the other side of the veil. It is a link to her, part of a beautiful pattern forged by her and carried on by me and hopefully my children will carry it on as well. It is also carried on by some of my brothers and sisters and perhaps their children will carry it on, linking them sideways and diagonally with my family, thus creating an even more intricate, beautiful pattern.
Stories also create patterns. Recently my aunt sent me a packet of stories about my ancestors that I had never heard. I had ancestors who crossed paths with Joseph Smith. Ancestors who suffered persecutions in Nauvoo. Ancestors who endured the long march across the plains to the Salt Lake Valley. And did you know that Sacajawea is my ancestor? Her story is also one of great strength and endurance. (Once my niece portrayed her in a school project and another boy who was a descendent of Lewis, (or Clark, can’t remember which) portrayed him! How uncanny is that!) When I tell these stories of faith and perseverance to my children I am forging more links, creating yet another pattern.
And now, my dearly beloved brethren and sisters, let me assure you that these are principles in relation to the dead and the living that cannot be lightly passed over, as pertaining to our salvation. For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation, as Paul says concerning the fathers—that they without us cannot be made perfect—neither can we without our dead be made perfect. ~Doctrine & Covenants 128:15
As we forge these links with our ancestors our chainmail becomes stronger and is a force and a protection against the adversary. We virtually cloak ourselves with the strength of our ancestors. The chainmail becomes whole. It becomes perfect. It is the pattern of salvation both for the living and the dead.