Some 45 years ago, I went to the Swiss Temple to do proxy baptisms for the first time with a group of youth from southern France, where I lived at the time. The bus ride took a couple of days, and we had plenty of fun along the way. Once we arrived at the temple, however, a sense of reverence descended on our group. As I sat and waited for my turn to enter the baptismal font, I felt something I never had before. I knew that God loved me, and I knew it from my head to my toes.
Several years later, I arrived in Provo, Utah, to pursue an education, and for the first time in my life, a temple was within walking distance. I went weekly to do proxy baptisms. Sometimes I was the only patron there. I loved the opportunity to have a small part in helping others start on the covenant path. Over time, my desire to take my own next steps on the covenant path began to grow.
In summer 1984, I was 19 years old and preparing to graduate with my nursing degree from Brigham Young University. I was also preparing for an education of a different, more important kind. I was preparing to go to the temple for my own endowment. Almost 40 years ago, it was not common for young adult women my age to go through the temple unless they were planning on getting married. I was not dating, and I was still almost two years away from being of missionary age — but I was drawn to the temple. After being interviewed and supported by my bishop and my stake president, I received my own endowment in August 1984.
That began what is still a deep love of the temple and its power in my life. I am still drawn to the temple. I know I will find peace there. I know I will find strength, and I know I will find joy. The temple has been a place of refuge for me many times. I have walked in desperation for relief from some of life’s heaviest challenges, slumped in my seat and sobbed. I’ve had temple workers and patrons alike “randomly” come up to me and tell me just what I needed to hear. I’ve felt the “peace ... [that] passeth all understanding” envelop me like a blanket (see Philippians 4:7). I’ve gone desperately needing strength and have received it — sometimes the added strength comes immediately, sometimes it comes drop by drop, but it always comes.
I don’t only go to the temple in times of distress — I also go in times of joy and gratitude. I go because I love to serve, and I go because I love the Savior. I find comfort in the promises found in temple ordinances. I have memorized the words of the temple. As my life’s path unfolds in often unexpected and sometimes rocky ways, my temple covenants give me something solid to hold on to.
I have been a temple worker for several years now and have found even more joy as I serve others who come to the temple. I have wept with patrons as they perform ordinances for their loved ones. I have felt the real and tangible power of one set apart to administer ordinances. Like many, I was anxious to return to the temple as soon as possible after a pandemic shut the doors. As an ordinance worker, I was blessed to serve during some very special sessions during the height of the pandemic and am equally blessed to serve with a fully reopened temple. It has been a privilege to see how many patrons have returned with tears in their eyes and gratitude in their hearts for the blessings of temple worship.
In a world of confusion, chaos and growing contempt, I am more grateful than ever for the blessings and the lessons of the temple. I’m grateful they are now being numbered in the hundreds. I am grateful that I live within walking distance of one. Thirty-eight years after going through the temple for the first time, I am still drawn there. And I am grateful.
— Holly Richardson is a Deseret News employee and editor of Utah Policy, a daily newsletter,