Thursday, March 17

Living Close

The flowers outside the Provo temple are blooming. Looking out the west entrance, sprays of who-knows-what kind of colored blossoms dot the ground. But looking back toward the temple, at the rows closest to the temple walls, a strange phenomenon presents itself. Everywhere else on the temple grounds, the plants are randomly in bloom, with a few small blossoms surrounded by masses of still-undeveloped foliage. But in the rows closest to the temple, every flower is in full bloom. Even the tiny daffodils are open - the only ones blooming anywhere - and the ornamental grasses are twice as tall when compared to those bordering the walkway.

Amazingly, though, it is only the first two rows that show benefit from closeness. By the time you reach the third row, which is only maybe 5 feet from the temple walls, the plants act just like those in any other row - sporadic blooms and plenty of underdeveloped green. Only the very close ones exhibit the spectacular growth.

The flowers closest to the temple get approximately the same amount of light compared to those two rows away. They get the same amount of water, the same fertilizer, and were planted at the same time with the same size plants. So what is the secret to their success? Living close to the temple.

The temple is the house of the Lord. But in addition to having an abundance of His Spirit, it also always has people coming and going. The last shift of the night ends and the cleaning crews arrive, and the last cleaner leaves shortly after the temple presidency arrives in the morning. Because of that, the temple is always heated... and that heat radiates out through the stone walls and foundation, warming a thin layer of soil about 5 feet wide. Plants growing in this soil have an added support against freezing weather and changing weather patterns. Year after year, the constant warmth of the temple ensures that the plants closest to the temple are the strongest.

Looking at my life, the times when I live close to God are the times when, somehow, my problems seem easier to bear. Doing the right things, and seeing the fruits of my faith, seems easier, and I find myself wanting to read the scriptures, serve others, share the gospel, pray... The trials of life seem to melt away - I rarely find myself depressed, and temptations seem simple to overcome.

But just being there isn't enough. I have to be close to God. And, for me, that makes all the difference.

I can't just read my scriptures and expect to see visions and receive revelation for my life. I have to study, search, ponder, and apply them in my life... which usually takes much more time than 5 minutes before I fall asleep.

I can't say a quick prayer at all the right times and expect to have an intimate relationship with God. I have to plead with Him, understand His will, and listen and watch for answers all around me.

Living the gospel is great. Most of the flowers on the temple grounds will eventually bloom and look beautiful. Many of God's children will eventually acknowledge Him and turn to Him. But I want something better. I want to thrive here on Earth - to revel in the glories of life even while the storm is raging. I'm a (gay) Mormon guy with lots of problems. For me, living life on the outer edges of the gospel, according to the letter of the law, isn't enough. If I want to truly feel the power and influence that God can have in my life, I have to live close.


  1. That was beautiful. You are a great writer. Im not an active member of the church, but I so appreciate the message you just shared with everyone. Maybe someday I can find myself "living close" again.

  2. Sunny -

    As the small text at the bottom of the site indicates, you're welcome (encouraged) to share the message with others. Thanks.

    Carolyn -

    I think it's probably apparent what I would say in response to your comment. Getting close is hard... but once you are there it's always worth it. Thanks for your comment.

  3. This was absolutely beautiful!

    I too, hope you don't mind if I quote you and link over to this post in the future.

    Truly, you were inspired when you wrote this.

    Thanks for sharing you're wonderful insights about "living close" and the temple.


  4. I needed this today :) Thank you

  5. Wonderful analogy. You are truly a fine writer. This Sunday I am speaking at one of our local wards - I was having trouble feeling connected to any particular topic and last night finally decided to speak on the temple. I too hope that you will not mind me sharing some of your thoughts. I'm so happy to have discovered your blog.

  6. As I am discovering is pretty consistent with your postings - beautiful, concise, insightful. Thank you so very much.

  7. I can't help thinking of the warmth that radiates from the temple, and equate it to the love our Father and Savior feel for us. Sometimes when I'm sitting in the temple I just close my eyes, and pretend they are giving me a hug, and that the comforting warmth is that of their arms around me.


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