I have wrestled with words this week after last Friday’s horrible shooting. I’ve had no desire to write anything simply because my thoughts have been with the families of the Newtown community. Tuesday night I was a volunteer at a local Christmas concert. After working the “will call” ticket table, I was seated immediately before the music began. Walking down the aisle right behind me were a young father and his daughter who were seated next to me. The little girl was probably 5 years old and adorable in her pink outfit and pink shoes. She had long hair and a very sweet smile. I really just wanted to put her in my lap and wrap my arms around her. In that moment, she was the embodiment of all that is precious about children and life.
I take the same route to work almost every day . My favorite stretch of road is about two miles long with plenty of things on both sides of the road for me to observe. There are two farms and I enjoy watching the fields change as they are worked each season. What I have pronounced as “the most perfect tree” is on this route as well. Right now all the leaves are gone and I’m waiting for it to be covered in ice on a sunny winter day. The whole tree will sparkle like a crystal statue. My favorite sight, however, is the little wooden chapel.
This roadside log and cement sanctuary is less than two car lengths off the road, so you need to pull up at an angle. The door with its “Welcome Home” sign is usually left open when no one is there. It’s rough on the inside. The walls and floor are unfinished. There is a small table against the wall immediately to your left as you enter. Directly in front of the doorway against the back wall is a plain altar with a picture of Jesus hanging above it. In the middle open area, there are a couple of short benches. In the back right corner is a broom. There is no electricity, but some hooks have been added in the ceiling for anyone who wants to bring and hang a lantern.
Above the small table is a typed history of sorts. It’s been framed and is still readable. That’s where you discover that the chapel was placed in this spot by Kathryn Smithey who has since passed away. There’s a simple composition notebook and pencils on the table for comments along with a Bible.
Over the years, I’ve seen groups of four to five teenagers gathered inside; they looked as if they were having a Bible study. One morning a guy had parked his motorcycle in front and was leaning on it while he played a guitar. On another afternoon, an earnest looking young man had set up four short rows of chairs outside to the left of the chapel and was standing behind a simple podium. He was facing the road and waiting for someone, anyone, to stop and listen to his message.
Most often I will see a car parked in front and the door will be closed. I imagine a person with a need has stopped in for a few moments of prayer or solace or simply to be alone in the quiet.
We all have those times. When it’s your turn, where is your hiding place?