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Everyday Worship

A place of worship as a witness

In the course of some business travel, I found myself at the World Trade Center PATH station in Lower Manhattan. As I exited the train station, in the middle of the throngs of people – all moving quickly in whatever direction they were headed, it was hard not to think about September 11th, and how crazy it must have been to be in the middle of all of the destruction and pandemonium of that day, on top of the usual Manhattan-style hustle-bustle.

As I made my way from the train station to the Millenium Hilton, where I would squat for a while to get some work done while waiting for a meeting, I found myself in front of a beautiful church – St. Paul’s Chapel. There was a small cemetery in front of the church, and there was scaffolding around it, as if there was some construction being done – but I was still a beautiful sight.

One of the things that My 52 Weeks of Worship Project has done is open my eyes – I notice places of worship more than before, especially if I find them to be beautiful. Aside from the actual church building, I noticed a sign, which was located on the wrought iron fence that surrounded the church grounds:

I was struck by the history of this church – not only is it, apparently, Manhattan’s oldest public building in continuous use, it has witnessed, and survived fire, and destruction. It was the site of the celebration of the first president’s inauguration, and served as a place of solace for those who suffered through the devastation of September 11th.

Often we go to places of worship to find comfort during difficult times, and to give thanks for the good things that happen.

If the walls of this church could talk, what would they say?

It has witnessed so much, been the context within which many stories have played out.

I dunno. I just thought that was neat.

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