I knew where it led and suddenly, I knew that I had to go there before I continued on. There was time and, well...I couldn't say "no" to this particular clarion call.
When I worked in that city, I had a very stressful, demanding job, and one awful summer I had to do the work of three people as the others on my team had either been promoted or had left the company. Instead of taking lunch, I had begun going to Adoration.
Starving for Home
The first chapel I found near my work was still quite a drive and it was so comfortable and I was so emotionally exhausted that when I arrived there I'd almost immediately fall asleep, only to have to rush back, addled, to work. "Something" goaded me to look further, and indeed, I'd found a chapel closer to work. Each day, perhaps nearly every day that terrible summer, I looked forward to my break so that I could steal away to the chapel.
I didn't each lunch at all. I knew what I needed: My Lord.
I remember the first time I arrived and crept up the stairs to the chapel, careful not to disturb any of those who were there praying. I didn't like the fact that I had to enter the chapel from the front, but just the same, I was grateful to be able to go and sank down in a pew like an exhausted swimmer collapsing upon the sand.
The chapel was like one from an old convent (which may be what that building once was); the altar is in the front surrounded by stained glass windows set into an arched outer wall. the pews line up precisely with heavy wooden kneelers and the scent of the old building is so permeated with ancient incense and...well...that indescribably sweet but nostalgic pungence one often finds in old buildings.
I was always comforted from the moment I entered the chapel and it became an oasis of peace that kept me sane in a very difficult time of my life.
Today, although I was happy to be able leave the office to run my work errands on a nice fall afternoon, and I was thrilled with what I was going to pick up, I knew that I had to take this detour and visit Jesus as a perfect balm for my harried soul.
I could not disobey the invitation that came to me today on the freeway and it was like stepping back in time as I parked my car and once again approached the chapel door, climbed the steps, and entered into the presence of the King.
As I knelt before Our Lord, deeply taking in the familiar aromas, I was taken back in time, thanking Jesus over and over again for this refuge He so freely offers us. Thanking Him for allowing me to come into His Presence.
Although I've fallen away some from praying the Liturgy of the Hours, it continues to go with me everywhere I go and today I was not surprised to open it and find us amidst the story of Esther. Her prayer is never far from my lips: "Help me Lord, for I am all alone and I have no one but Thee."
The Psalms spoke to me so deeply today that I nearly wept in gratitude as well as sorrow.
I could not help but marvel at how far God has taken me with Him in these last several years. Even as I prayed the Psalms, the memories of the place played in the background of my intellect. I recalled that the last time I'd been there in that particular chapel, I barely knew my faith and was eagerly absorbing all I could. There were days I would go there and would just weep from stress and anxiety because of my job. There were days I would arrive and, in spite of the hardness of the pews, fall asleep out of pure exhaustion, unable to speak or absorb. All I could do was BE. And there, in that chapel, Our Lord allowed me to simply....be. I could do that in His company, where He, simply...IS.
I sat there today, realizing that God has given me SO MUCH, and has and is taking me along with Him on a long walk to Calvary. It becomes so apparent, for the last time I was there, I was asking to know Him more deeply, praying about a religious Vocation, knowing that what I was doing was not what He intended to be my life's work.
But still...it was all the same. Jesus is the same, everywhere, every day, in every age, from today to tomorrow, from the past we can't fathom and into a future we'll not see with earthly eyes. HE IS, quite simply. He IS. Eternally.
There I knelt, and although I did not really pray in words today, I prayed wordlessly, staring at Jesus as He looked back at me. And in that passive activity, time stopped and there was nothing but eternity in the gaze of Christ.
Earthly life continues and I had to break that incredible gaze, so I invited Jesus to join me as I ran my errands. I knelt and left the silent endlessness of the blessed chapel and continued in silence to the next task.
Pondering my brief visit to the chapel, I realized that it was exactly what I needed. God knows us all so well and although we can encounter Him anywhere, at any Catholic parish, whether hidden in the tabernacle or exposed in the monstrance, He continues to use ALL of our senses when we seem to have lost our way in the darkness of this world. Jesus brought me into that suburb today not simply to complete an errand, but to visit HIM in a place special in my own memory of Him.
I needed to go there today. I needed it because I needed the sensory reminders of my passion for Him and His life-giving Passion for me. I NEEDED that.
Today, in that all-too-brief interlude, God did not speak to me of the Cross or of deep theological explanations. He spoke to me of eternity with Him. There, in that place where I first discovered the meaning of real, sacrificial love, He gave me a moment of loving eternity. And that description contains no paradox.