30 January 2011

Oratio

That is, prayer.  When I have opportunity to pass through the nave of St. Paul's, I find it nearly impossible to do so without stopping for a while and praying.

The room itself calls for it - you can almost sense the generations of prayers raised in the building.  They have hallowed it through the years.  I still remember one year running into John Carter (then our President) praying in the Church, and he telling me about a big decision he was making, and couldn't do so without kneeling in prayer for a while before his Lord.

Even though I may be the only one in the building, there is the joyous conviction that I am actually not alone at all.  The images of our Lord, the statue and crucifix proclaim that He is near to all who call upon Him.  The images of St. Paul, of the holy evangelists Sts. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, proclaim the hosts of witnesses that have worshipped and adored the Lamb and found life eternal in His blood.  Then there are the faces of so many who have now vanished and yet seem so close there:  Charlie, David, Dorothy, Gustav, Marianne, Carl, Albert, Marlene... so many more.  Their presence is palpable in the Church, much more so than at the cemetery where their bodies sleep.  Here we still join their spirits in the praise of Him whose blood has blotted out our sin, destroyed our death, opened wide for us a Kingdom.

So yes, the room seems to coax me toward prayer.  There are times I just sit in it and let the peace seep in.  Outside life rattles by at a pace as fast and crazy as the cars and semis racing up and down Interstate 55, but inside...  Inside there is a hidden treasure, a peace and stillness.  An invitation to come apart for a little while and pray.

5 comments:

Marinus said...

Beautifully said.
Where is this church?
Mark Veenman

Bill Hansen said...

Agreed...Beautifully said!

"Their presence is palpable in the Church, much more so than at the cemetery where their bodies sleep. Here we still join their spirits in the praise of Him whose blood has blotted out our sin, destroyed our death, opened wide for us a Kingdom.

Reminds me of the section from von Schenk's *The Presence* where he speaks of being closer to loved ones at the communion rail than while standing at their grave sites.

William Weedon said...

Mark,

Along Interstate 55 in Illinois, about 30 miles north of St. Louis, MO.

William Weedon said...

Bill,

I was thinking of that passage...

tehazy said...

Quite a contrast to someone who stopped by one of our vanilla box churches and asked the secretary where he could spend a few minutes in prayer. She answered, "Well, I guess you could use the pastor's office."
Having been in your sanctuary, the ambiance invites one to pray, just as you said.