This is the Eucharistic chapel at our local Newman Center. It sits outside the church proper, completely walled off, with a door that remains closed at all times, and many would say that for those reasons, it was designed “wrong.” And yet when I think of holy spaces—places where I find God, where His presence wraps around me and fills me up, this place is at the top of the list.
There are other holy spaces in my world, places where the silence catches my breath and lifts the pressure from my mind—my parents’ farm, the top of a mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park, where we ate lunch one day on vacation. But these are outdoors. In all the world, the only manmade place that has ever helped me feel the presence of God this clearly is this small room.
To come here to pray requires effort. I must traverse miles of busy four-lane road past by stoplights, businesses, schools, even Planned Parenthood. Twist around old, beat-up apartment houses, into the shadow of towering parking structures. There’s virtually no free parking, so I even have to plan the time of day. And perhaps that effort prepares my heart, lays it open to be touched.
In this place, I have knelt before the simple wooden Tabernacle, my soul raw with anxiety, racked by questions and doubts too frightening to share with anyone but God. I have leaned my head against rough stone walls that catch the ends of my hair, seeking stillness of mind to hear the still small voice of the Lord. I knelt here on my wedding day.
In this place, the light filters through stained glass and a telescoped skylight and becomes a tangible thing, the presence of God, the touch of the Holy Spirit. You can’t touch it, but you can feel it.
May God bless the hands that built this space, the minds that designed it, and all those who retreat here to find peace and understanding.