People were walking in from all directions, leaving themselves at the door, putting away their business cards and gathering in a circle. They said nothing, and looked around them. The light through the windows began to fade. A scatter of seats became a congregation. And whatever was said, or not said, became less important than the silence.I recently read and reread Pico Ayer's Chapels. The passage above spoke to me especially because of the time of year: Lent. The Tenebrae service will be said on Good Friday. I've only been once in my lifetime, but that single experience made a lasting impact. Tenebrae is Latin for shadows. This mass is celebrated in the shadows, which is to say a dimly candle lit church. The absence of light makes the mood more sacred and solemn in the same way the absence of sound does. After the readings, the candles are extinguished and then we sit in silent darkness. There is a hush that is really anything, but quiet.
A chapel is where you can hear something beating below your heart. After a short time, a door is slammed shut signifying the stone being rolled to seal Jesus' tomb. That was precisely one of the moments when I witnessed that something...the holy spirit...beating below my heart. It is a moving, changing experience.
The Church is only one of the places that I worship. I also experience many moments of divine providence as I walk through the woods or along the lake. Really, any time I'm out in nature. I have always felt the wisdom in Billy Joel's lyrics: I believe there is a time for meditation in cathedrals of our own. A ha...I do believe it...personal cathedrals everywhere. Wherever you happen to feel moved to reflection is a sanctuary. Any place that makes you feel how small, and yet important you are is a temple or a tabernacle.
When I'm in the fresh air watching the world change from day to day, season to season I am certainly reverent. It is holy. When it's just me and the trees and the birds and the wind, I feel connected to something. Something benevolent, omniscient and omnipresent. Something big and beautiful. It grounds me and lifts me up at once. It's energizing and calming. Ayer's reflects, If people are always running to catch up, they will never have the time and space to create a world worth catching up with. When I slow down, I see the worth in every small thing. That's why I have to make the time to step out...so I can get in. Doing so makes me want to be a better person, and it restores my hope in my humble ability to make a better world starting right in my own home...my own little life.
He also wisely states that, Happiness is absorption, being entirely yourself and entirely in one place. That is the chapel we crave. Not narcissistic self- absorption, but rather the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual clarity that comes from being true to oneself...yes, that is contentment. Happy peace, or peaceful happiness. Be. Here. Now. It is and has been my mantra, and yet it is anything but automatic. I say it out loud to remind myself many times a day. I do my best to pay homage to the here and now and that is a bit of divinity in the dailiness too.