When I was in my youth I felt like I didn’t need a specific place to talk to God. I could do that in any setting, whenever I wanted to. I can still remember one very intense afternoon when I had that conversation while walking in the woods.
I still went to mass back then but I resisted it. I was impatient during the service, often glancing at my watch to see how much of the hour was still left before I could leave and continue my day.
I’ve grown much wiser in the intervening years.
Nature is still a good place to reflect and pray but my attitude towards church has shifted. I now understand the value of the community of believers that surrounds me when I’m in a church and I appreciate the insulation I feel when I enter the doors of a chapel, a prayer room or a church. These spaces are sacred. They filter out the cacophony of the world and center me in God’s presence.
Mass has become something I joyfully anticipate.
Churches have become my favorite places.
My father-in-law, who is a deacon in the Catholic church, would be happy to know I no longer claim “travel status” on Sundays when I’m vacationing. Whenever possible I now seek out the nearest church, welcoming the discovery of a new place to worship.
My only regret is that I didn’t arrive at this ” favorite place” in my spiritual development much earlier in my life.