I learned a long time ago that churches are traditionally built as ships, with tall, arched ceilings like the keel and a pointed center like a bow. Although there are numerous biblical analogies and historical parallels that might be drawn, the representation of the church as a ship bringing her passengers to safe harbor became particularly and unexpectedly visceral for me this weekend.
Those in New England already know of the record low temperatures and wind that we all saw over this past weekend. Here at HC, we were advised to stay inside, and only go out when necessary. I, of course (with my supreme planning skills and logic), had a work shift on the coldest night, and thus bundled myself up to make the trek from my room to Kimball, where I work. Given the advisory, the shift was near empty, meaning that my time was spent mostly in pleasant conversation with my coworkers rather than my usual tasks. However, when our shift ended, and it was time to brave the storm once again, and head on our separate ways, I found myself inexplicably tired (despite my lack of activity over the past hours) and, as soon as stepped foot outside, cold. It had been a long week, and I wanted nothing more than to teleport right into my waiting bed.
It was in such a state that I sought shelter in St. Joseph’s, which to me stood as a bright, warm respite on the cold and weary path back to my room. As I entered, it struck me that, while the winds outside screamed with fury like I have never heard before, the inside of the chapel remained warm, dry, and peaceful, seemingly unfazed by the chaos outside her doors. Sitting in the last pew, allowing the feeling to come back in my hands and feet, the chapel appeared to me more than ever before like a ship, remaining and strong and constant while the turbulent storm raged outside.
Only a few weeks into the semester, my life, and many others’ can feel and even look much like the storms outside. Tossed on the waves of homework and deadlines, blown away by an increasing number of responsibilities and plans, it feels as though ‘safe harbor’ is a wholly unreachable goal. Yet, although during the day you and I are forced to captain our own ships, planning, working, studying, it is reassuring to know that in the dark and storms, we may peacefully take refuge as, not the captain, but the passenger, of another, safer ship: the church.