The Old Wooden Chapel

I missed the Friday deadline for reservations for the Women’s Day of Reflection at a parish in a neighboring suburb. I called the facilitator on Sunday to tell her I would bring the reservations for myself and a friend to the parish office on Monday morning.

So after Mass in my own parish on Monday, I drove to Sacred Heart parish on my way to water aerobics class. The double glass doors to the church building and offices wouldn’t budge. I saw no lights on and heard no sound from inside the building, even though it was it was 8:50.

I noticed that the air conditioner was running beside the historic white wooden chapel across the courtyard. Perhaps they were having mass there and I could give the reservations to a staff member. I had never been inside this 1899 building and was curious to see what this relic looked like.

The double wooden doors of the chapel were stiff. I pulled hard to get them open. The view inside was bright and tranquil. The restored church has light colors on the walls and around the altar. The two dozen or so wooden pews with kneelers invited me to pray and then creaked in response. The priest was just sitting down at the end of mass. Only by the sound of the air conditioner outside broke the silence.

The priest rose and blessed the congregation of about two or three dozen parishioners. I asked a woman if she worked in the office. She didn’t. “What time does the office open?” She said, “8:30.” I wondered why it wasn’t open at 8:50.

I waited for the priest to come down the aisle, the only way I could see for him to exit the building. Perhaps he would take the envelope in my hand and give it to the office staff when they arrived.

He brought out the monstrance for adoration and began devotional prayers to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Of course! This was Sacred Heart Church. I was so glad to have this extra prayer time in front of the Blessed Sacrament that I spent ten minutes kneeling on the wooden kneeler behind the last pew.

Realizing I was late to the Y, I followed a few women out of the church and walked back across the courtyard to the main building. The double doors were still locked. No light visible, but I could hear voices. I tried another door near the voices. Sure enough, that door was open and I completed my errand.

On my walk back to the car I realized that the side door was probably open when I first arrived. I felt a little foolish and then I realized that maybe God wanted some extra time with me. Maybe that’s why I didn’t see any lights or hear any voices earlier. Yes, the ten minutes of adoration were a special gift that I almost missed because I was trying get to exercise class on time. God wanted me to see that beautiful little chapel and spend these few minutes with me. I felt humbled and loved by this brief experience.

As I exercised in the water aerobics class ten minutes less than usual, I treasured a secret in my heart. This secret ten minutes of love one-on-one with the Lord wasn’t on my schedule. I hadn’t planned on it. But he had.  Everything that happens to us is designed by God to teach us holiness.

What unexpected treasure of love has the Lord given you in only a few minutes?

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About Nancy Ward

Nancy HC Ward is a journalist, author, and speaker who blogs about Catholicism, her conversion, and Christian community at,
 7 websites and 7 magazines. She loves to share her faith story and help others share theirs through her Sharing Your Faith Stories seminars, also available on DVD. She contributed four chapters to The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion. She facilitates the Dallas/Fort Worth Catholic Writers and a critique group for the Catholic Writers Guild, where she serves as a board member.
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One Response to The Old Wooden Chapel

  1. Terry says:

    A good lesson we need constant reminder of. TM

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