Scripture Reading: Psalm 96
At this tender stage of another Lenten season, I have a confession to make. I do not attend Roman Catholic mass, but I do make an occasional visit to Catholic churches, usually during the noon hour, for the purpose of prayer, or just to enjoy lunch from Taco Bell in my Jeep under the towering oak to the south of the sanctuary. Although I don’t exactly stealth my way in with paranoid glances over either shoulder, this incognito custom goes against the religious grain of everything my mother instructed and practiced–stay away from anything liturgical as one would a staph infection. She didn’t come out and say ‘They’re of the devil,” but her eyes betrayed the sentiment. In light of my upbringing, stopping by a Catholic Church to kneel and pray is as out of sync with my past as was the woman that stopped by our Ash Wednesday service at the Methodist church and declined to receive the imposition of ashes simply because she was “a Baptist.” What draws me to these forbidden zones is not the confessional booth or any other particular Catholic procedure. I don’t consider myself a Protestant–I’m not protesting anything–but I’m not Catholic either, simply a follower of Jesus Christ wanting to be fully his. So, that which beckons to me irrepressibly is the otherworldly artwork, transcendent glass windows containing a kaleidoscope of heavenly hues, candles and incense, statues that both inspire and humiliate, and peace–most of all the peace. For the few moments I allow myself to battle my childhood training and bask in the divine shadow of extravagant artistic expression tuned to whisper Christ’s glory, I am transfigured. Utilitarian architecture has its place, I guess, but my soul always longs for more. I think this is what I edge closer to when the peace and filtered light wrap around me like a favorite blanket. And at that moment, maybe for just that moment, I lose sight of everything except that God is beautiful.