Like a Child
The chapel is empty. Yours the only soul
in the space lit by stained glass and sun.
It was not built for emptiness.
It was made for people. For crowds,
For the whole town and beyond.
For the rustling of pages.
Children full of curiosity.
Old men snoring.
Your couples canoodling in the back.
For the earnest ones. The seekers,
Even for the self-righteous and strangely prideful,
their sins left at home in the closet.
It was made for the singers.
The prayers. Fellowship afterward
with home-baked cake and strong coffee.
It is made for all this. People, gathered,
each with their own brokenness,
together stronger than alone.
Worshipers to a whispering God
with more patience
than even a God should have to bear.
But for you, this is where you worship best.
In the silence. The emptiness.
Where there is room and you can find God easier
when there is no competition for his attention
and you can call his name like a child calling for his father.
About this poem
Inspired by this picture, which was taken outside Philadelphia.
I really do prefer empty churches, even though I am a pastor and even though that is not what churches are for. It’s the introvert in me.
At times I feel grown up. At times I feel like a child. On my good days I feel like a teenager.
I was at a boarding school in Cambodia that was run by Catholic nuns. Across the road there was a community of Franciscan monks. They had a tiny chapel. I used to love being there as the sun went down. Just the monks praying, the soft light and the scent of incense. I am not religious in a formal way but those moments were special. It was peace.
I can imagine the scene. I think I would love it as well.