Box Elder County old-timers — like me — had never seen anything like it. Literally hundreds of thousands of "pilgrims" visited the Brigham City Utah Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during its open house. Businesses boomed and buses roared as a river of souls slowly flowed through our town.
I was a Spanish language "greeter" at the temple. I stood near the bus stop holding a card that read "Español." When I saw a pair of eyes light up, I'd make my move. Otherwise, I simply stood and marveled at the nonstop crowds.
Much ado was made about protesters and pamphleteers at the open house. There weren't many to begin with. And after the city suspended its regulations, there seemed to be even fewer. Most people who showed up were just folks, filing through the Mormon temple doors two-by-two, as if boarding the ark.
Years ago, my wife and I visited the Sistine Chapel in Rome. My impressions then were the same as my impressions at the open house — hundreds of visitors, moving slowly and silently through a sacred space. No dawdling or lingering was allowed. It was a silent tour — though the buzz from the Sistine crowd would grow until an usher went "Shhhhhh" — like someone blowing on a pot of boiling water to simmer it down.
Still, seeing how well people behaved at the Sistine Chapel rekindled some of my positive notions of the world. And so did seeing the polite and kind behavior of citizens and residents at the Brigham City Temple open house. All it would take would be one lunatic to ruin things for everybody — in Rome as well as Brigham.
But no lunatics surfaced there or here.
I prayed none would.
For the truth is, decent behavior is getting harder to come by. Someone has said that the acts of one loutish soul can ruin the good deeds of a dozen people.
I think it's true.
Goodness is not the norm. Goodness is a fragile and precious commodity — so much so we often celebrate it when we see it.
But I did see goodness in abundance in Brigham City last week.6 comments on this story
Watching that many people behave with humility and humanity was enough to restore my faith in, well, restore my faith in humility and humanity.
Now the doors at the temple will be closed to the outside world.
In Brigham City, life will return to the easy pace we're used to.
That's a pleasant thought, yet also a bit sad.
The jubilation of the open houses charged up the town like never before.
On the other hand, it's going to be nice to get an ice cream cone at the Peach City without waiting half the day.
Jerry Johnston is a former Deseret News staff writer. "New Harmony" appears every other week in Mormon Times. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org