Last night I was to speak to a youth group. I knew what I was talking about, but that afternoon my mind would not sit still. It was just full of rabbit-chasing, blahblahblah noise. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t focus. So I went to Barnes & Noble and walked the aisles of books.
It was like walking through a field of conversations; each book a different dialogue. Some were talking about God, some were chatting about sports, some were debating politics, some were telling stories or reminiscing about people they knew. It seems odd that such a flurry of activity would quiet my distracted mind, but it did. Maybe it just helped me get outside my own head or put my thoughts into perspective. Or maybe it’s just because I like books, but walking those aisles put me at peace.
After pacing through that literary labyrinth, I grabbed a seat in the cafe, pulled out my Bible, notebook, and pen. There were several folks around working, sipping coffee, and chatting. When I’m distracted, I have the tendency to eavesdrop so I pulled out my phone and earbuds. I needed to listen to something calming yet stirring. I picked the post-rock band Explosions in the Sky. I only have two of their songs, so I listened to them on repeat.
I opened my Bible. I read and then I wrote about that passage for about a hour. It was like church. I felt a peace and a connection to God that I really, really needed in that moment. It was just this feeling of, I guess you would say sacredness and holiness. All while a four year old two tables over was trying to eat a cupcake the size of his head.
One of the cool things that I’ve discovered in life is that God meets me in all sorts of secret sanctuaries throughout the day. Sometimes I know it and I go to those places for sanctuary. That’s why I went to the bookstore yesterday. That’s one of the reasons why I run. That’s why I would slip off to the chapel or lake when I was in college.
And sometimes those sanctuaries come to me unexpected. It’s that feeling of awe at the end of a great movie or you turn and see a sunset. It’s getting hit with a truth on a sitcom that has no business being profound or stumbling across an act of compassion. It’s Jim laying his head on my chest and EA grabbing my hand.
I love that about God. No matter how screwed up life gets, no matter how lost in our own head I am, God is always there to remind me of God. God turns bookstores, movie theaters, trees, slums, songs, words, and touches into cathedrals. Each a monument of praise for the Creator of all good things.
And I guess it’s not that big of a secret that all of these everyday sanctuaries exist. After all, the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. Amen.