President Sherwood shared a thought in prayer meeting at the temple Friday evening that I think is worth considering. He told a story that is a take-off on the parable of the pearl of great price.
A man seeking goodly pearls found one of great price.After he found it he went and sold all that he had in order to purchase it. The man treasured the pearl for its perfect beauty and luster and after a while decided that he should build a box to hold the pearl and to display it. He got the best wood he could find, delicately carved a beautiful design on the top, finished it carefully and polished it to a beautiful shine. Then he lined the box with velvet and edged it with gold. Placing the pearl in the box, he admired his work and was very pleased with it. Every time he looked at his pearl, he also admired the beautiful box it was in. After a time he began admiring the box more and more and noticing the pearl less and less until finally, he saw only the box.
President Sherwood likened the box to the temple and the pearl to the sacred ordinances that are performed inside. He warned us to not let performing the ordinances become so commonplace to us that we stopped treasuring the beauty and majesty and priceless value of those ordinances. I was touched by the Spirit as he spoke and committed to pay more attention to the ordinances, but I didn't know how graphically the story would be illustrated for me that very evening.
My first assignment after prayer meeting was that of being a greeter at the temple entrance. My duties were to welcome and direct our guests coming into the temple to do the sacred ordinances. It was also my duty to help preserve the sacredness and reverence of the temple by encouraging our guests to whisper, turn off their cell phones and check cameras.
While I was there, a bus full of tourists came to the temple and casually dressed tourists roamed the grounds taking many pictures. After a while, one of them came into the temple wanting to see the inside. As kindly as I could, I explained to him that we were a working temple, dedicated to the Lord and not a "site" to be visited. I told him that he would be more than welcome to come back later and do an ordinance. He said that they didn't have time for that and walked out. A few minutes later, two women from the tour came in dressed in capris and tennis shoes with cameras around their necks. One said that she just wanted to take a quick picture inside and then she would leave. That, of course, is not allowed. At the same time the other one pushed past me saying she just had to see those beautiful stained-glass windows from the inside and firmly planted herself about five feet inside the foyer facing the doors and refused to budge until her "need to see the windows from the inside" was fully satisfied. Shortly after that, another man dressed in shorts came in holding a temple recommend and said he had a recommend and therefore he had a "right" to look around inside the temple. I wondered if the Lord had been standing there at the door of His house, if that brother would have barged in, uninvited, and said the same thing to Him. Finally, a group of them came to the door and two men, each opened one of the doors as wide as possible so the whole group could look inside. One of them said, "Ok. We won't come inside, we'll just stand out here and look. I said I was sorry, but we have been asked to keep the doors closed. There were no more attempts to come inside. I felt bad and thought they had no time for or interest in the Pearl, they only wanted to see the Box.
Two hours later, another tour bus full of people arrived at the temple, had appointments and came dressed in their best, reverently, to do the ordinances. They waited patiently and cheerfully for a turn in our small locker rooms to change into their temple clothes. They then went quietly about doing the ordinances. Some to sealings, some to initiatory and most to do the endowment.
My last assignment for the night was in the locker room where I watch as they all finished their temple work. Again they waited cheerfully for a turn at the lockers and didn't seem to mind how crowded it was. I thanked each one for coming as they were dressed to leave and almost without exception, they expressed to me their gratitude for the privilege of coming here to do these beautiful ordinances.
I couldn't help comparing these two tour groups. One group came to see the Box and took home many beautiful pictures of the temple. The other group came to see and treasure the Pearl. Each one of them took home no pictures, but took the Pearl, safely tucked away in the depths of their hearts.
Lets all seek the Pearl.