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Savoring the beauty around us

By Brett Sampson

For Mormon Times

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 15 2010 6:30 a.m. MST

While I was in Salt Lake City recently on business, I made a decision that impacted me in a peaceful and profound way.

Before driving home to Rexburg, Idaho, I went to the Salt Lake Temple. I had planned the night before to do a session, and I knew which one I could make in the morning. I was up early and had allowed myself plenty of time to get there. But I found myself jogging through the parking garage and taking the steps two at a time.

I crossed the street walking fast while shutting off my phone, I entered the temple, showed my recommend and nodded to the nice women pointing the way to the stairs.

As I got to the bottom of the stairs, a small water feature amidst the greenery caught my eye. It was quiet and peaceful. And I realized that my rush was unnecessary and perhaps irreverent. 

The rest of my temple experience was one of careful observation. From the colors of the murals in each room, to the remarkable carvings in the ceiling of the celestial room, to the way I felt more deeply when certain things were said or done, I ended up walking and thinking more slowly and purposefully that day.

Becoming more aware of my surroundings in the temple was a simple but significant reminder of how much our environment affects us — often whether we are conscious of it or not. We can, and should, choose to appreciate and be inspired by the beauty around us.

I live a few blocks from Brigham Young University–Idaho. As with the other Church Educational System institutions, it is a beautiful campus. The Brethren recognize the importance of an appropriate learning environment for the Lord's university, and obvious care is given to the landscape and buildings.

The new BYU–Idaho Center (click here to see photos) is immense in size and impressive in its utility and tastefulness. After December 17, it will be a dedicated place of gathering for (up to 15,000) members of the campus community.

But you should see the artwork on the walls. In each of the outer halls, on each of the three levels, hang large, beautiful prints by Minerva Teichert, Carl Bloch and others. And they were purchased with money donated to the university for the purpose of beautification. Yes, beautification is one of the philanthropic priorities at BYU–Idaho. I love that.

I have heard Elder David A. Bednar and President Kim B. Clark call the church schools temples of learning; so why wouldn't they also be houses of beauty and order? The atmosphere of the university affects the way students and employees feel and act and learn and teach.

During the holidays (when things seem to become more hurried), and always, I hope we can all slow down, take a deep breath, and savor the beauty around us and in our lives. There is so much to appreciate. And doing so has been a peaceful blessing for me.

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