“My Quest in Finding Light and Enlightenment,” Ensign, Apr. 1997, 49–50
“One word or phrase to describe the spirit of my church?” I asked in surprise.
“Yes,” the professor replied, “and then include in your thesis a design of a church building that would demonstrate that word or phrase.”
The professor’s statement was completely unexpected. This thesis was a requirement for the master of architecture degree I was pursuing at the University of Oregon and was my last hurdle before graduation. I responded that I felt a single word or phrase could not be found to describe the spirit of my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, since it is based upon all truth and therefore embraces all true, revealed religious beliefs and practices.
The professor disagreed. He felt strongly that what was missing from my thesis was a simple description of the spirit of my church and a design that would express it architecturally.
After the meeting, I left facing a challenge that, if not met, could well keep me from entering my chosen professional field. After pondering this dilemma, I decided to interview my priesthood leaders and other Church members in our ward. Many excellent suggestions for a single word or phrase to describe the spirit of the Church were made, including faith, eternal progression, revelation, the Book of Mormon, priesthood, prophets and apostles, and many others. I considered them all. But a means of satisfactorily expressing any of these gospel principles architecturally did not come to me.
With this delay in getting my degree, pressure mounted while I wrestled with the problem. For one thing, living costs for my family were becoming a concern. Then one night while pondering my problem, I realized I had not taken the challenge directly to our Father in Heaven. I had prayed for guidance and had sought out my priesthood leaders for advice, but I had not asked the Lord specifically for help in finding the word or phrase I needed. Humility filled my entire being. I had done all in my power to find an answer but had not been able to find a solution on my own. I truly needed direct help.
I found a quiet, private place to pray, and there I knelt and poured out my heart to my Heavenly Father. As I concluded my prayer, a word flashed into my mind: enlightenment. Then the phrase light and enlightenment followed. Joy swept through me. My prayer had been answered. I thought of how light and truth have been restored in our day through the Prophet Joseph Smith. As prophets, seers, and revelators, our Church leaders continue to offer light and truth to all who will listen. Our missionary efforts truly bring enlightenment to the world. Our temples glow with spiritual light. Eternal truths are taught and enlighten all who enter therein.
Suddenly it was easy to envision a meaningful architectural design for one of our Church buildings. I decided to design a building that would allow light to penetrate from the heavens all day long and that would radiate light heavenward each evening.
The resubmission of my thesis that now illustrated the phrase light and enlightenment was accepted. My professors expressed great interest in both the history and my description of the spirit of our church.
I am grateful to our Father in Heaven for the insight and inspiration I received on that occasion. The deep meaning and spiritual significance of this experience have been a wonderful and continued blessing to me since that day.