I spent a lot of time in airports this past weekend. Back-and-forth for work, squeezing in a food-court dinner during a layover, checking the “departures” screen again because I forgot my gate, again. During the layover rush on my journey outbound, I spied a small “chapel” sign pointing up a long staircase. My gate ended up being not too far from this staircase, and there was still a half-hour before my plane boarded, so I gathered my bags and toted them upstairs.
Despite being located in the bustle of an airport, you hardly hear the commotion once the door closes behind you. I was greeted by a chapel worker on my way in, but she was packing up for the day, and I was soon alone in the small room. There was a bookshelf by the door holding various religious texts, atop which sat their prayer cards and a basket of plastic rosary beads. I took a rosary, despite having one in my purse—there was a novelty to the plastic airport beads—and a Divine Mercy prayer card.
I was alone in the chapel, with the office worker gone, which gave me a chance to look around. Besides the bookshelf at the entrance, a table sat up front holding a plastic plant and several religious texts. One of them was open, which I assumed was the Bible; it was Sunday, so they likely had a small, intimate Mass hours before I arrived.
I’d intended to pray the Divine Mercy chaplet, or simply close my eyes in quiet contemplation. But, being me, I simply had to see what other books sat on that table.
The open Bible was between a Qur’an and an English/Hebrew Torah. I flipped through the Torah, first from the wrong way, because that’s how it lay on the table. But, being left-handed, the “backward” way felt more natural when I started at beginning. I skimmed the first few lines of Genesis, comforted by the familiarity of our creation. “God saw that it was good.” And it was.
I made a mental note to invest in a Torah. I can’t read Hebrew for anything, but it feels like home, somehow. Even reading those first few verses, knowing we have the same God and the same foundation. It wasn’t the prayer time I’d expected going into the chapel, but those few minutes were much welcome in the hurry of travel. Speaking of which… I had a plane to catch.
I tried to find the chapel in the layover airport on the way home, too. There were signs for it, which I followed across terminals, but soon discovered that the chapel lay beyond the security point. I’d have to leave, and then go through security again, which no one wants to do more often than they need to. But I liked knowing that it was there. It became my duty to find the chapel in any future airports I visit, to express gratitude for those who worked it and for the God who kept me safe in my journeys. The airport chapel is an unassuming room tucked away somewhere, a place of quiet in an unexpected location. And it’s my new favorite place to visit, a necessary waypoint as I’m busy traveling somewhere else.