These past two days my wife and I have been privileged to be visitors on the Duke University Campus. As is our custom we spent times during breaks and at the conclusion of our business walking and exploring. One of our rituals has always been to visit Duke Chapel to marvel at its architecture and make our prayers. This time something was different. Duke Chapel was closed for renovation and repair. What struck me immediately was the scaffolding set up around the outside of the Chapel which made its appearance even more medieval than the last time I saw it. The picture above shows the view from the Bryan Center containing the University Bookstore. However disappointed we were at not being able to pilgrimage into the Chapel we were blessed by a visit to the Divinity School and its wonderful chapel (pictured above) and its bookstore.
Later, as I contemplated our visit it struck me that the life of a great building is much like our own life. From time to time we have to shut down, and renovate. Sometimes we have to renovate our bodies through healthier eating and exercise and sometimes we have to renovate our minds through contemplation and prayer to clear away things and regain a sense of connectiveness to friends, and family, but most importantly to God. We should never be afraid to face uncertainty and doubt which is cast upon us by the chances and changes of this life and to do so we must sometimes renovate. The great thing is after renovation comes rebirth and a relaunching of our selves back into the fray with renewed vigor and assurance that God is always with us even when we think he has abandoned us.
In the morning office for yesterday, the day we visited, the thirty day lectionary called for the reading of psalm 56. Verse 12 struck me as particularly applicable to the discussion of renewal and rebirth:
12 For you have rescued my soul from death and my feet
That I may walk before God in the light of the living.
And in the Old Testament lesson, from the First Book of the Kings (18:41-19:8) Elijah is thrown into a panic when Jezebel sends him a note threatening his life which brings him to proclaim “O Lord, take away my life; for I am no better than my fathers”. But, rather than take away his life God sends an angel not to chastise or punish but to encourage him to arise and eat to prepare for the renewal of his journey.
So when necessary renovate and prepare for rebirth. God has not abandoned you and he stands ready to accompany you as you continue on with your journey.
Note: If you click on the picture of the Chapel encased in the scaffolding you should notice the juxtaposition of a big black pickup truck against the medieval like Chapel. I find this rather apt for this day and age.