I remember as a little girl staring up at the tall ceilings and admiring the thousands of shimmering crystals in the chandeliers at the Draper Utah Temple open house. I was in awe of the pristine white carpets, the inspiring artwork, and the intricate woodwork.
Even at a young age I still remember the feeling of awe and spiritual peace I felt inside the temple.
I’ve attended several temple open houses over the years, most recently the Feather River Temple open house in Yuba City, Calif. I went through the usual tour surrounded by a small swarm of people, some of them long-time members, some more recent converts, and others mere friends of members or curious locals.
No two people had the same experience. The grand walls and elaborate decor offered a breathtaking tour for people from all walks of life, but beyond the majestic structure, why did people really come? Why do I keep going?
As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have the opportunity to visit temples almost any day I wish and I know what temples are for and what they look like. Pictures of temples, including the Feather River Temple are widely available for all to see. But even knowing all of this, thousands of members, including myself, came to see the new temple.
While some may have come to examine the details of the hand-painted leaves in the brides’ room, or the glistening chandeliers, many came in celebration or anticipation of the things that will happen within the ornate walls for many years to come.
Mog and Cameron Lunt brought their family from Stockton, Calif., to see the temple. Cameron said it was a special experience because “we can take the kids with us and be … as a family unit in the temple.”
Mog said it was especially fun to show her daughter the celestial room and the brides’ room. She said her daughter looked at herself in the mirror and said she felt like a princess.
While not everyone believes in the same doctrine as Latter-day Saints, there are many within Yuba City and beyond who support the temple and even enjoyed similar feelings of gratitude at the open house.
A local Catholic couple, Robert and Gigi Chesini, said their first encounter with the Church of Jesus Christ was when their sons were in the Boy Scout program years ago. They saw the temple being built and came to tour it.
“I was in awe of the crystal chandeliers, the paintings are just phenomenal, it just, it moved me … I loved it,” Gigi said. “I was surprised how similar we are on a lot of things too … we’re all Christians, believe in Moses, believe in God, you know, Jesus Christ.” Robert agreed and said it was just fantastic.
Archna Kalra traveled from Washington state to give tours to the large Punjabi community in Yuba City. Archna is originally from India and was born into the Hindu faith, but joined the Church of Jesus Christ in her 20s.
Archna said that some of her most special experiences giving tours have been in the sealing room. She said one man even knelt across the altar from his wife and said, “In this sacred place, I promise that I love you, now and forever.” While he was a member of a different faith, he believed that it was a possibility to be with his wife forever.
“These are the longings of every human heart,” Archna said, “to be with our families.”
That longing of all human hearts is truly why Latter-day Saints — and others— come to see the temples. Not for the stunning architecture and towering stained glass artwork, but for the promise that family can be eternal.
As a lifelong member who has attended and worshipped in dozens of temples, I still feel drawn to go and see for myself the beautiful walls that will house the sacred covenants of many Saints to come. I also long for my husband, child, miscarried baby, and future children to one day be reunited forever.
The human heart yearns for love to be eternal, and that is why we love the temple.