At the University of Dallas
I had to be a book hound yesterday- running all over town to collect obscure texts with foreign titles for an upcoming project. Traversing so many different campuses and libraries in a single day brings to mind the fond memories I have of my undergraduate college; our fussy, funny little cluster of buildings among gracious old trees in south central Michigan, a campus shabby in some places, garishly new in others, but always so dear and so important. My school was a citadel of modern conservatism, family values (the real kind) and young people who took their work seriously. We had a tiny little chapel next to the cafeteria. It was close and dim and red, and it reflected the timbre of our school's spiritual life: one small cross for every fifty American eagles, and probably one dollar spent on spiritual life for every ten thousand spent on the sports facilities. Nonetheless, our little chapel was always hopping; frat boys led guitar worship there in the early mornings, Fr. B celebrated Anglican Mass before noon, the Evangelicals crowded in to pray before lunch, the Catholic students met to say the Rosary there, the Inter Varsity leadership plotted there in the evenings, and every now and then, you found someone praying in there alone, on the solitary kneeler, late at night.
Funny thing is, our faculty and administration were always sending their own children to the Roman Catholic University of Dallas. I suppose the citadel of modern American conservatism recognizes the profound value that the Church offers to the preservation of American family life. (irony bell!) With this in mind, I sorted through the familiar shabiness of the University of Dallas library quickly, and then made my way to their Chapel of the Incarnation, tucked among the trees. There was a very cool, deep, bubbling baptismal font at the front (you wanted to jump in)... stark, 1970's ugliness in the main sanctuary... but best of all, a little chapel on the side. There were a few candles burning. There were ten students on their knees, in silence- ten random students who stopped in to adore the Lord at 5:30 PM on a Monday evening.
...In the shabby little chapels on obscure little campuses, where God waits to cover His kids in the blanket of His presence, all is somehow right with the world. I drove off and refused to turn NPR on again; that beautiful, deep, silence stayed with me.
What do you remember of your favorite chapel?