It seems like ages since I’ve had a real heart-to-heart with God.
I don’t think my 30 second prayers in the mornings count as…heartfelt. Usually it’s a default template: ‘Thank you Father for another day. Please watch over my family, keep the angels with them wherever they go’ after which I might remember to name those who I’m thinking of at that moment, for protection during my travels, forgiveness of my sins.
Occasionally I’ll talk to God on my commute to work. I speak out loud as if He’s sitting in the passenger seat next to me. But it’s been a while since I’ve held a conversation via commute. It never truly feels genuine if I’m not on my knees, with my eyes closed and hands folded. Church conditioning, I suppose.
Which brings up my fondness for chapels and my current search for one. I simply adore chapels – those small, intimate prayer-room-esque nooks that you find in hospitals or schools. The most memorable, personal prayer-talks I’ve had were in rooms such as these. I used to work at a hospital in Houston that had such chapel.
Before work, at around 6:45am, I’d find myself in a pew, all alone, kneeling and talking to God. I preferred being alone because no matter what the subject matter at hand was, I always found myself emotionally affected. Sobs of happiness, sobs of sadness; tears always found predictable pathways down my face. I was usually ashamed to have anyone else see me in that emotional state; a reason why I came earlier in the morning: doctors/nurses/staff were usually rushing to get to their shifts and families were still asleep in patient rooms. The chapel was silent and serene for 15 minutes…just for me.
Being in a hospital, in a room where so many other individuals called out to God for help and healing, made me feel like it was where I could find a direct channel to Him. I felt close and connected. I literally left my heart out on that pew every morning.
That was years ago.
Since then, my last recollection of being in a chapel was Aug 2009 at an airport in Taipei. I was on a 2-hour stopover before my flight to Manila and I had some time to spare. After exhausting my attention at an internet cafe by my gate, I made my trek over to the souvenir shops and terminals nearby. That’s when I saw an area called the “Worship Garden”. There were 3 separate prayer rooms: a Mosque-like prayer hall for Islamic worshippers; a Taoist room with comfortable mats on the floor for sitting; a Christian prayer room including pews, cross-cutout on a wall where a Byzantium era art piece of Mary and baby Jesus hung.
I still had a good hour before my flight boarded so I decided to go in. I remember sitting at the front pew to avoid making any eye contact with others that would have walked in. It was cold in the room and the pews were equally chilly to sit on. I felt a bit out of sorts at first, but after getting comfortable in new surroundings, I loosened up and transitioned into my typical conversation-style prayer with God. Naturally, my eyes began glazing over and my face buried itself in my hands. 10 or 15 minutes probably passed by. I left in a bit of a fluster.
That was the last, genuine heartfelt prayer I remember having.
I don’t feel the same when praying in churches or in the privacy of my own room. There’s too much pomp at church, and my room feels…well, for lack of better terms, stained with sin? Ha. I guess there’s just something special about chapels. An intimacy that can’t be duplicated. It’s a feeling similar to having that safe spot right next to your mother when you were a kid, grabbing her leg if anything scared or startled you.
I need to find a place like that here.
I’m due for a reconnect.