Friday, December 17, 2010

Remembering the Provo tabernacle

I was driving to Salt Lake when I heard on the radio that the Provo tabernacle was on fire. At first I didn't think much of it—I just assumed that it was a small fire, no big deal—but the news updates kept getting more and more dire. So when I got home, the first thing I did was pull up google. Instantly, I was flooded with images and videos of that beloved building in flames. The words "the roof has collapsed" kept popping up everywhere, and try as I might, I couldn't find any hopeful news.

Watching that beloved building go down makes me incredibly sad. It's like a part of me has been lost forever. That building didn't play a huge part in my life, but it was one of those things that I always assumed would be there. It is a part of my heritage, it is a part of my memories, and it has always had a special place in my heart.

Like thousands of current and past BYU students, I went to the Provo tabernacle for choir concerts and stake conferences. It was in that building that I listened to Elder Ballard speak words that penetrated my soul and soothed my aching heart. It was there that I stood with other BYU singles and sang "We Thank Thee, O God for a Prophet." It was there that I watched and participated in numerous choirs, listened to speakers from the balcony, and felt the strong spirit that resides there.

And like thousands of current and past Utahans, the Provo tabernacle has always been a part of my life. I remember sitting on the balcony—I felt like I was on top of the world—when President Tervort's tiny form took its place with the new stake presidency. I remember watching my mom sing in her pretty green dress. And most of all, I remember driving down University and seeing that "pretty castle." It filled me with a sense of wonder as a child, and that sense of wonder never really went away. The building was magical.

Despite the uncomfortable benches, annoying poles, narrow walkways, and rickety staircases, when you are in the Provo tabernacle, the choirs sound like heavenly angels, the speakers are all messengers from God, and the people around you have more love in their hearts. That is the magic of the tabernacle.

Provo has a lot of historic buildings, but the tabernacle is different somehow. When you walk in, you just feel a special spirit—a spirit that connects you with the pioneers, with all the people who have gone on before us. Everything that happened there was special. If those walls could talk, they would have incredible stories to tell. It is heartbreaking to think that that particular spirit is gone forever.

Whether the building can be saved or not, today was a sad day for Provo. The tabernacle, along with BYU, is the heart and soul of Provo, and without the tabernacle, there is no heart. The tabernacle defines Provo's character in so many ways and I have difficulty imagining what Provo will be like without it. There is no replacing something that monumental.

So as much as it hurts to say it, I think it is time to say goodbye to the tabernacle we know and love. There is no changing what is past—we can only move forward. While we I may never get to be encased in those beloved walls again, I will cherish the memories I have of them for the rest of my life.

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