The world needs more awe
Rev. Peter E. Bauer
United Church of Christ Minster
Recently, I was at a major airport waiting to take my flight home. I had a few hours until departure and as I walked around, I saw a sign for the Chapel at the airport. I thought.
“I need some solace.”
So, I walked ahead to a place where I thought I find some tranquility.
When I arrived at the “chapel space,” there was a big glass window and door.
Inside there was an area that would hold about twelve people. There were chairs facing towards a music stand. White walls with no adornments.
That was it.
No Altar, no Crucifix, no Star of David, no Crescent Half Moon, no Chalice, no Gaia Goddess. Not even a prayer rug.
I can’t say that I was entirely disappointed with this presentation. After all it is a federal facility and there can be no designation of religious symbols on federal buildings. This has been determined by several previous court rulings.
What I was disappointed about was that in this public space, there was no thought about what could signify something that could evoke beauty, let alone the sacred.
Even a Rose in a vase would have been very helpful.
Many of us live out days going to work in an office either in a building or at home. We are beset with responsibilities. Challenges, demands, interactions with pleasant and not so pleasant people. We are struggling with our livelihoods, our families, out health, our relationships.
Somewhere in all of that we need a reminder that there are manifestations that point to meaning beyond ourselves. We need to know that we are all in this together and that in the long haul, in the long view, that our lives are significant and that what we do does matter for ourselves and for others.
When these moments of break through occur, greater awareness and satisfaction can also happen for us.
Not too long ago, I was driving down Highway 00 between Pershing and Morrison. The sun was setting. I had a glorious day visiting friends that I had not seen in many years. The beauty of that for me was it was like our conversations started up again from where we left off. The space between those encounters didn’t leave a void, but rather manifested in warmth, affiliation and even love. At that moment, as I was driving, I saw a small turtle making its way across the road. I slowed down and smiled. I had seen previous turtles making their way across the highway including outside Gasconade, Missouri, on Highway 100, known also as the Lewis and Clark trail.
As the sun was setting, I took in the scenery of the lush green fields, the corn growing, the cattle grazing in fields. I also remembered years ago when I drove my Volkswagen Bug over this stretch of road, how a big steer got out on the road. It was foggy and fortunately IK weas able to avoid hitting him.
But now, in this sacred and transformative moment, I witnessed the determined terrapin cross the road and submerge into the grass.
One more day to forage, one more day to do turtle things, one more day to live.
Maybe, there’s a message for us all in discovering the sacred in life, which is all around us.
Maybe, we just need to be vigilant, open, and willing to see the divine however known, that which points to greater meaning which can be all around us.
Yes, the airport chapel was sterile. You would be hard pressed to find anything that would remind of the “ultimate things.”
Maybe, they could place an unlit decorative candle in that space.
For that matter, maybe we can look in our lives and to others who are around us regarding increasing light in our lives and meaning and purpose for ourselves, our families, and friends.
May that which is sacred be always readily available for us to see, appreciate and incorporate into our lives.
May it be so.
Rev. Peter E. Bauer is a United Church of Christ minister. He has been a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and Medium.Com.