Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Safe haven

I couldn’t get my eyes to stay shut last night, so I answered the keyboard’s call and clicked out my thoughts. When I read the night words by the light of day, I wondered if other people might understand and have places that serve the same purpose for them, so I sent the piece to the chronicles for review.

When I was a child, I sought refuge under a hydrangea bush, but the name is very deceiving. I rarely was able to remain hidden in that place beneath the lavender and periwinkle blossoms long. My red hair stood out against the blue maybe? Or maybe my sense of sneaking and quiet were off. Although I still hold resentment towards the hydrangea bush for giving me up- time and again, the hopefulness of finding a place of safety scents my memory still-the redolence of damp dirt that acted as my seat resembles the scent of early morning fog, or a rain that is trying to make its way home.

In my house, the top shelf of the linen closet kept me out of reach. A park ranger’s stand in the woods works the same way. The sounds of life in motion circle around outside, while you are kept safely tucked away from wild animals and stinging insects ; for me, I hid among the freshly folded sheets and towels and other neglected linens, unnoticed until my mom found toe prints on her white pillowcases, and the sheets that were resting on the next rung above them. The only thing missing from that hidey spot was a back exit. If I ever build a house, you can be sure that the linen closet will have shelves spaced for climbing, with a back door somewhere up top.

My life is speckled with an array of hiding places, maybe that will be the book topic that makes me a million, though a million can’t come close to the value those hiding places have meant to me over all these many years.

There is an interesting life force that resides in the building. Our church building. It changes with the tides of traffic and it shifts with the energy that comes and goes throughout the day and night's activities. I am not ever afraid there except in the kitchen where the echoes bounce around among the pots and pans and stainless steel sink and counter. The building is a very safe place for me.

I have mentioned before my permanent standing reservation in the balcony. I sit there every Sunday morning before the birds are up, and I enjoy feeling the day begin there. …Subtle notes of noise become voices, then take shape as people and families until by the start of worship, the sanctuary is full of souls hoping for spiritual fuel.

On Wednesday nights, I sit in my spot and listen to the choir practice. Watching the angels sing in the chancel and listening to their God given talents is second only to feeling the effects of driving around on a warm day with the top down and LifeHouse screaming from my speakers. The choir’s songs aren’t exhilarating in quite the same way, but the notes move through me just the same and they stay with me somewhere close to my heart until the next time I get to go listen to my musical family.

I can’t imagine the bravery it takes to sit or stand in front of the world to sing out. That is not to say that I don’t sing out, mind you. I have quite a reputation for singing out while I mow the grass or for singing along with LifeHouse while cruising the highway. I rely on the motor to drown out my discrepancies and I can only empathize with the cars behind me who catch my sour notes. Let’s just say it’s a good thing windshields are shatterproof. That was a smart idea, Mr. Ford , Mr. Edison or whoever decided that, you earned your money that day.

Church provides more than a spiritual foundation for me. In fact, I’m on the early side of that journey. The balcony is my hydrangea now, my top shelf. The space is welcoming. Safe. Wanting for company of any sort or condition.

There is a texture to the silence that permeates the balcony when it is empty. Different in day than night, different when the surrounding rooms are full or vacant. Sometimes, when I am overwhelmed, or confused, or not knowing what I am or how I can manage both past and present challenges- if I wait until dark and venture upstairs, I can sit in that silence and let myself be embraced by the darkness. It is real. And it holds me if I let it. Rarely comfort; sometimes calm or clarity let their selves be known.

Henri Nouwen writes that connection with God must include solitude, quiet, to create an opening between human and higher power. The balcony provides that opportunity for me. Not that I’ve gotten a conscious answer, but the questions run strong.

Questions come up, pass through my mind and my heart. Is God here? Why am I? Why did God create this world? How do I find God? Does forgiveness really exist? How long do we rely on friends when our hearts are heavy? How long do we count on someone being there for us when we can't be there for ourselves because we are still lost?. How do we rebuild when we have uncovered false or faulty foundations? What do we build with? The balcony holds the essence of all who have ever been there, the spirits of more than that. Sometimes it seems to me that the entire sanctuary is really a time capsule that keeps getting added to.

The church building. The church building.
When the day is done, and people leave, the wake of their activity lingers, and the building creaks or vibrates a little. Mostly that only happens when a big truck goes by.

There is a distinctiveness to the empty building. The evening energy is anticipatory. At the close of the full day, when all that needs to happen there is done, and all human life has left, the body of the building murmurs. The Chapel's heartbeat is more easily felt, the hallways release breath, the walls let go a little. I like to walk the halls during those moments. I like to hear and feel the building transition into peacefulness, I like to be there as it gets ready for whatever the next day has to offer.

This entry may seem disoriented and a little undone, maybe, but truth still.
Where is the place that holds you safe?

1 comment:

"imagine the darkness in love with the light." said...

i don't remember if i blogged about this or not but it would also be in the church. and you did it justice. i only began to make the reader feel how i felt reading about your church. i too feel safe there. as a child i would hide in the closet. and see if anyone would miss me.