I was ambling through the airport looking for a place to have a healthy breakfast prior to my morning flight back to Chicago and I walked past this “Reflection Center.” “Interesting,” I thought, “we used to have chapels in the airport.”
I was in a new terminal of the Detroit airport and wondered if this “reflection center” was a new, more contemporary substitute for the places of worship, prayer and spiritual counsel that many airports maintained down through the years. Perhaps terms like “chapel,” and “prayer,” have become too religious sounding in our increasingly secularized society.
It caused me to remember an incident that happened not yet 1 week after the catastrophic terrorist attacks on the US in September 2001. The nation was in shock and on high alert. I was scheduled to fly out to Dallas for the “Pentecost In Perspective” conference which was being held at the Potter ‘s House there in Dallas. I must admit, I was more than a little nervous, but determined not to cancel my attendance at this much anticipated conference.
Upon my arrival at O’Hare and after checking in, going through tighter security, and finally settling into a seat on the boarding area, I met up with a number of other fellow travelers going to the same conference.
After some time, the airline agent announced our flight was going to be delayed. That announcement triggered a flurry of speculations–some verbally articulated and others silently pondered. In that post 9-11environment, many of us feared the worse. And fear left unchecked runs rampant in our minds and in a crowd. Fear casts a shadow over reasonable thought, battles to occupy our minds like an invading army, and aims to paralyze us with anxiety, worry, and doubt.
In what seemed like an eternity with relatively no information shared, my anxiety heightened to such a level I began fear that something was wrong with our aircraft and this delay was a sign for me to turn around, go home and keep safe.
I got up, left the boarding area and found a quiet place to make a call to one of my Intercessory Prayer partners. I shared with him what was going on and how I was feeling. He listened and then reminded me of the truth of God’s word. And then we prayed. Over the phone. While I was nestled in a little corner in one of the country’s busiest airports.
After we ended the call, with my faith renewed, I slowly walked back to the boarding area. And then I heard it. Could it have been there all along? I heard the old hymn of the church, “A Mighty Fortress is our God,” playing softly but clearly from the airport sound system. No Muzak top 40, no “reflection music.” But a worshipful hymn. A calming reminder to me and anyone with the heart to hear that, in spite of the recent chaos, God was still in charge.
I was good then. I boldly returned to the boarding area and shortly thereafter the agents announced that the mechanical repairs to our craft had been completed and shortly thereafter we boarded, and landed in Dallas for what would be a destiny shaping conference.
I don’t know why the designers of this new airport terminal included a Reflection Center instead of a chapel. Perhaps it was to appease the non-Theists of our culture, or in an attemp to be inclusive in our pluralistic culture, they settled upon a term that did not privilege any particular faith.
But here’s one thing I do know, prayer can go forth anywhere. Yes, in a formal chapel, even in a contemporary reflection center. What I know is when a person needs God badly enough they’ll turn a bathroom stall into their prayer closet.
The life of faith is fueled by the spiritual disciplines. The person of faith doesn’t just go to God during times of crisis. Prayer, meditating on the Word, worship and yes, reflection strengthen the person of faith.
So today, even if there are some who aim to ‘de-religicize’ our culture, the life of faith is more than religious terms and codes, but is about a relationship with God that at its core is spiritual. Jesus reminds us that “God is Spirit” and we who worship God worship in spirit and truth — regardless of the label on the door.
Now reflect on that.