I have made a sort of promise to myself to take a walk most everyday at some point. Today I needed that walk to clear my head and reframe.
This morning Apple Blossom tickets went on sale. I am not sure what sin my parents committed or I committed that AB ticket sales would fall on Holy Week this year. But they did. And so, in addition to writing a Good Friday sermon and an Easter sermon, I also had to take on the role of money-changer in the temple and sell tickets to parades for a youth fundraiser.
After the clock struck three, the tickets were officially off-limits for the day, so I decided to try to get some fresh air and move on to the next thing on the agenda: sermon prep. I had been playing with ideas for Good Friday all morning between selling parking passes and front row seats, but was having a hard time getting my hooks into anything worth pursuing. And if I did, I didn’t have time to pursue the thoughts for long before the phone rang, alerting me to the presence of more ticket purchasers downstairs.
So, the clock struck three and I took a walk.
I decided to make my way down to our local coffee shop on the walking mall and then head back to the church. On my way down, I noticed for the first time in five years of living and serving in Wchester, the Pilgrim’s Chapel at the Episcopal church down the street. I think I knew that it existed. I probably have noticed it before, to be honest. But today it clicked that it actually existed and could be somewhere I could go. After procuring my small cup of coffee, I made my way back towards the office. Again, my eye was drawn to the chapel, so, in a weird, jerky motion I grabbed the handle to the door and tore inside.
I am not sure why I felt like I was trespassing. Maybe it was the big sign alerting me to the alarm system that was posted on the front door. Maybe it was that I don’t work at that church or attend there. But, I am pretty sure that the entire point of the chapel is to reach out to people who don’t necessarily go to church there. How strange for a pastor to feel ill at ease entering a chapel.
I was struck by my own awkwardness. It seemed to run parallel to the spiritual awkwardness I seem to be mired in recently. I am usually a pretty happy, content person. I know how blessed I am. But I have felt restless and unmoored for the past few weeks for no discernible reason. So, just as I awkwardly grabbed the handle to that door, I also awkwardly, reluctantly, finally stared my own need for God full in the face.
I flipped through the first few pages of the Book of Common Prayer, priming the pump, as it were to begin to pray the prayers of my own heart. And, while they might normally flow easily, I needed that priming today. I sat silently for a while. And then, staring at the tile floor, I began to pour it out. When I could finally lift my eyes up to the wooden cross on the wall, I began asking God for direction. Is this uneasiness the sign of a new call into a new direction? Am I sick? Why do I feel so awful? So off? What do you want from me?
I turned to my right and looked at the only stained glass window in the chapel. It was of Joseph leading a donkey, Mary riding it, holding the infant Christ. An angel covered them, holding them in the span of wings and body, pointing. Jesus had already been born. They weren’t looking for somewhere to give birth to a child. Mary was looking at the baby. Joseph was looking at them both. The angel, hovering, eyes on the family, finger pointing forward.
I don’t have any idea what this feeling means. And I am still asking for answers. But I felt better as I ducked out of the chapel today. The window did not show the road ahead for the family or where the angel was pointing. But the angel hadn’t left the family behind to lead the way. The angel hovered, covered them, moved them forward, even when they weren’t ready to look up and out. That is enough for today.
I am just going to keep trying to walk a little bit each day. I figure I will find out where I am heading when I am ready to look up. Until then, I will be grateful for the unexpected chapels I find along the way.