The Empty Church

I slept in a church the other night.

My church is involved with a program that provides a place to sleep for homeless families.  About four times a year, volunteers from our church cook dinner for them and stay overnight with the families. (The other weeks, other churches volunteer.)

Since my church is a tiny storefront with not much room, we don’t host the families at our church but we do provide volunteers that stay overnight with them at a different church. (In this case, a Lutheran church.)

So, I did that this week.

I was glad to be able to help but it wasn’t very hands-on or involved. I showed up at 7pm, after dinner. Then stayed until 7am. Most of the time was spent sleeping. So, there wasn’t much of an emotional interaction with people. Which was disappointing.

At one point, when the families and my co-host had gone to sleep, I was still wide awake. I went into the main sanctuary of the church. I love holy places. I love shrines, temples, places of worship. Any religion. The last time I was in the hospital, I’d dress in my street-clothes and sneak off my floor to go down to the chapel to pray.

This sanctuary was beautiful. Oval-shaped, with a strip of stained-glass all around. It was dark and silent. I had my cellphone’s flashlight to provide me with light so I didn’t smash into things.

The altar seemed to be of marble or some other white rock. It was hard to tell in the dark. It was in the center of the sanctuary, with all of the pews around it. There was also a baptismal font.

I was tempted to light the candles on the altar but didn’t want to draw attention to myself.  Or risk burning something.

I sat there in the dark and silence and prayed, alone with God.

It wasn’t my church. It wasn’t even my religion. But anywhere that is a house of God should also be my home.






~ by R.M. McGrath on 08/25/2011.

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