Scott Taylor: Life lessons learned while driving to see 10 temples in 3 hours

One doesn’t need 10 temples, 3 hours or a car to replicate and appreciate these little analogies

My wife, Cheryl, and I arranged one Sunday afternoon to pick up her 95-year-old father, Syd James, from his home in south Orem, Utah. The plan was to stop at 10 temples in a drive of several hours and finish with dinner in our Provo, Utah, home — with her taking a photo of each house of the Lord to create a little photo book reminding my father-in-law of the experience.

Starting at the Provo Utah Temple, the 105-mile route continued — in order — to the Lindon, Mount Timpanogos, Draper, Taylorsville, Jordan River, Oquirrh Mountain, Saratoga Springs, Orem and Provo City Center temples. The Lindon, Taylorsville and Orem temples are under construction; the Saratoga Springs temple is soon to be dedicated.

By the third stop, Syd was following Cheryl when she got out of the car, so the photos started including selfies, helpful for him to remember the time together.

Syd said he appreciated getting out, being with us and seeing the temples. “But what is the purpose of this?” he asked, wondering if it was part of some Church News project I might be doing.

Cheryl Taylor and Syd James take a selfie at the Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple in American Fork, Utah, on July 23, 2023. | Cheryl Taylor

I said I might write about it.

Because of the elevation of some temple sites and the raised highways and streets we traveled on that day, we could look out and sometimes see not only the next temple but also ones previously visited or ones on the itinerary.

We took the quickest, most direct route — no shortcuts. And yet, as we drove, the next temple might be visible for only a few fleeting moments, soon hidden by hillsides or mountains, dips or curves, tall trees or even taller buildings. Much of the time we knew our destination and what awaited, even though it wasn’t readily seen while en route.

While I had been to all 10 temple sites previously, we traveled on some roads that were new to me. We had a smartphone maps app and road signs to help direct us. Even when wondering if I was on the right route, the app and signs were reassuring.

For example, Traverse Ridge stood between the Mount Timpanogos temple in Utah County and the Draper temple in Salt Lake County. And as we covered the 4.2 miles in South Jordan between the Jordan River and the Oquirrh Mountain temples, our view of the latter was obscured by trees lining 4000 West until the last block or two.

So it is on any journey — including progressing on the covenant path. We have a destination in sight, a sense of where we’re going, how far it is, how long it might take. And then come life’s challenges and obstacles, and our destination may not be easily visible. On the covenant path, we may lose sight of the next ordinance in our life or the ultimate destination from our mortal existence — eternal life and exaltation.

We have so much help along the way — the Holy Ghost, the scriptures, the teachings of modern-day prophets as well as mentoring and ministering from others. Combined, they serve the same purpose as maps apps, road signs and travel-experienced companions.

At one point in our drive, when the smartphone’s GPS app was off and I was feeling confident in familiar territory, I didn’t pay attention to signs and took a premature turn, ending up on an unfamiliar street seemingly going nowhere. We had to restart the maps app, look more closely at the road signs and make the necessary turns to get back on route.

Even then, the analogy was so obvious that I blurted out: “I need to repent.”

As prompted into realization by the Holy Ghost, repentance — so graciously facilitated by the Atonement of Jesus Christ — allows one to change course, return to the correct route and resume following the appropriate directives, counsels and commandments.

After a Sunday afternoon drive of three hours and stops at 10 temples, Syd James and Cheryl Taylor pause for a photo at the Provo City Center Temple on July 23, 2023. | Scott Taylor, Church News

One doesn’t need 10 temples, three hours or a car to replicate and appreciate the analogies. It can be done with any trip or journey of any time, length and destination.

Figuratively speaking, the covenant path is indeed “straight and narrow” — that refers to its directness, correctness and preciseness. But life’s twists, turns, bumps and uphill climbs are part of that journey along the covenant path.

When the destinations aren’t completely in full view, one should continue in faith, with commandments, covenants, scriptures and modern-day prophets providing direction. And when going off direction because of distractions or disobedience, repentance is a blessing to change course, resume with faith and reconnect with that which provides inspired direction.

Oh, and what about traveling on the covenant path with family, friends and loved ones? What about helping to mentor and encourage and accompany on the journey?

That’s another trip and another analogy — for another day.

— Scott Taylor is managing editor of Church News

Related Stories
A look at Latter-day Saint temples in Utah — 28 total, and going strong
Scott Taylor: For Elder Holland, heaven without his wife and children ‘wouldn’t be heaven for me’
Scott Taylor: How the Washington D.C. Temple has been a beacon, a target and a provider of little lessons
Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed