I love old churches and cathedrals.
It started years back when we lived in France. The churches there are so ancient and so beautiful. I found it difficult to pass through a town or village without stopping to take a peek around and sit for a spell inside, if time allowed. The hallowed silence within their walls breathed such peace to my soul. Being a foreigner in a new land, it felt the nearest thing to home.
Since then, I have made it a habit of visiting old churches wherever I go.
We've been to old churches in the French Alps when we visited, and when we were in Scotland and the UK, we visited beautiful cathedrals, even ruins of old churches and abbeys in Robin Hood's Bay. There seems to be a reverence about them. A hallowedness. As much as I love the church in Big Sky with its beautiful floral windows and a replica of a window shaped like Lone Mountain, my favorite by far was in Madison, Wisconsin.
While my hubby was taking an Alpine Cheese course at UW in Madison, I paid a visit to Grace Episcopal Church. Stopping by the office, I asked, "Is there any chance I could spend some time in the sanctuary in prayer?" The gal sitting behind the desk popped up immediately and exclaimed, "How delightful to have someone voice an interest in using it as such!"
Soon, I found myself in a sanctuary bejeweled with some of the most beautiful stained-glass windows that I have ever laid eyes on, exquisite portraits of our precious Savior created by Louis Tiffany himself!
However, one stood out to me above the rest. It was the scene of Jesus welcoming the little children.
As I knelt in prayer, tears welled up in my eyes.
I thought of all the broken, hurting men, women and children who hurry past that church day-after-day, knowing not that within these walls there is a Savior who longs to welcome them. That within these walls there is a peace, a holy tranquility, free from the disquieting intrusions of life. Within these walls there is hope for their hurting hearts and Light that can dispel whatever darkness they may be facing.
As I lifted them up in prayer, an old praise song came singing back through my mind...
Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary pure and holy, tried and true.
With thanksgiving I'll be a living sanctuary for you.
Every sanctuary I have ever visited has been a refuge of sorts for me. A consecrated, set-apart place where I can meet with God. A sanctum of tranquility amid the tumult and strife of life. A home, a shelter, a safe haven that breathes consolation, healing and hope into the deepest part of me. A place where confession comes easy and forgiveness falls softly.
I wonder, is that the kind of sanctuary I am?
Lord Jesus, make me a living sanctuary like that!
Arise, my people! Let your light shine for all to see! Darkness as black as night may cover the earth, but the glory of the Lord will shine from you.