Monday, July 19, 2010

A Moment

By Ashley Westerman

Yesterday as my friends and I walked among the thin forest of remaining Cedars in the mountains of Lebanon, we happened upon a small chapel. The building itself was a surprise to me; I didn’t even see it out of the corner of my eye as we entered the Cedar sanctuary. But regardless we followed Katie into the small door that stood open on the side of the stone building.

Inside I was greeted with the familiar hush of reverence, as I laid my eyes upon one of the simplest yet beautiful sanctuaries I have ever seen. It was a Christian site, evident by the symbols of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. The pews, podium and alter were all made out of Cedar wood; which was appropriate considering we were on a Cedar reserve. The pews were beautifully simple; smoothed and stained with raw wood as the front two legs. Because words escape me to correctly describe it, a picture of the alter is below…

As I sat in the second pew on the left, I breathed in the lingering smell of stone and Cedar with deep breaths. I knew instantly that this was a place I wanted to remember. Caught up in the moment, even with my friends around, I suddenly felt the urge to bow my head in silent prayer. Perhaps it was the Cedars; perhaps it was the mountains; perhaps it was the atmosphere in general this small sanctuary cultivated within itself or perhaps it was the realization of the fact that we were 6 young people on an experience of a lifetime.

Whatever it was, it was beautiful and it was powerful and it brought all of us together at once.

The silence was deafening as I meditated to the soft beat of my own heart, and in the back of my mind, I could hear the other 5 hearts in the room beating to the same, quiet rhythm. I was at ultimate peace for the first time in a very long time.

This moment and the conversations between us all that happened immediately afterward, has sparked my interest in being spiritual again. Though I do not identify with any religion because I am tolerant and considerate of all, I do worship and pray to the One, the overarching, the only almighty God. Even my readings of the Qur’an these past weeks have stirred up a spiritual upheaval within me that I’ve never felt before. I think God meant for us, especially myself, to find this small, beautiful sanctuary. Even as I write this in my cold dorm room, hours later; I still manage to drift into a peaceful trance with a heaviness behind my eyes just thinking about that small, simple place in the middle of the Lebanese mountains.

Though fleeting, I will always remember that moment.

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