Saturday, October 25, 2008

Battered Chapel

For whatever reason, I was thinking about this chapel today…and the brief time that I got to spend there.

It's part of a church that is on the waterfront in Gulfport, Mississippi. It survived Katrina, but as you can see, the bottom portion of the walls of the chapel didn't. But what's really great is that even though the bottom layer has been washed away, the rest of the chapel remained unscathed, including the stained glass and center chandelier. The pictures don’t do them justice. The windows were beautiful. When our group was there, the sun was shining, and….yeah….stunning.

I was part of a mission trip group that used this church for an impromptu meeting. It was the end of our week there and we do this thing where we make a big circle, and then each person gets turn to sit in the center. Then, everyone on the perimeter gets a chance to affirm and encourage that person. It's very moving. Many laughs and tears were shared in the hour or two it took us to go around our circle. It was over two years ago now (amazing how time flies), and I can still remember the encouragement I received that day.

After spending a week building houses for people whose lives were changed by Katrina, we sat in a church that had the same story. And like most of those people, even though there was damage, there wasn't sadness. Only peace.

This chapel made the perfect setting for our meeting.  The open walls let the sounds of the ocean waves "wash" over us the whole time we were there.  And after experiencing the presence of that place...I can't imagine it any other way.

As a side note: I was actually surprised by the demeanor of all the people we met in Gulfport. They had certainly been through a lot, and had more challenges waiting in their future, but it seemed like all they needed was someone to care and to be interested in their story. Because every time they had the chance to tell their story, the lit up and jumped at the opportunity. I imagine this chapel represents a similar desire and joy. Because at the heart of it all, I think part of what God wants from us is for us to care, to be interested…so he can tell us his story.

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