The road was blocked, with police diverting traffic for the Provo, Utah, half-marathon. On my way to the convention center a few blocks away, I walked along the sidewalk, watching the progress of the runners.
Some looked like they were in pain, probably had been in pain for the past almost-thirteen miles. Some looked hardly winded. A woman ran with another woman, let her go to the finish line at the end of the block, then backtracked to keep a man company, presumably to help him finish.
The announcer’s voice boomed under the inflated arch. “Let’s give it up for (runner name)!” And everyone cheered and applauded as runner after runner came through.
At the end of the race, abreast of the finish line, was the Provo City Center Temple. The grounds were empty, with everyone congregated at the half-marathon festivities. I took a detour from my conference route to stop and take photos of the flowers. Sunlight kissed the dewdrops, turning them into sparkling diamonds. I took a deep breath, catching the delicate scent of tulips, daffodils and creeping phlox. In that oasis of peace and tranquility, I felt the spirit.
I looked out to the street where people were greeting the finishers at the arch. I realized that the temple was at the end of their run. They completed the race, despite pain and hardship. Some were faster than others, but they all finished in their own way.
This is a lot like our spiritual journey through life. It’s a long, long race filled with challenges but also happy moments. The temple represents our staying true to the gospel. It’s easy to lose sight of our goal when we are exhausted and beaten. There will be many times we won’t want to go on.
But then others rally around us. They cheer us on and even link arms with us to get us going again. And those times when we think we are alone, we can turn to Him, who is our greatest friend and brother.
The race was winding down. I looked around once again at the beauty of the temple grounds. I was reminded that, with His help, we can reach the finish line and earn the most glorious prize of all.