It has often been said that there are three rules about buying real estate:
OK, it’s an old joke. But it happens to be true.
Recently we’ve been traveling and have visited two places that are in spectacular locations. And they have the hallmarks of important, memorable buildings that stay in our minds in the midst of the chaotic, frenetic pace of life. One is simple and rough hewn. The other is modern and sleek. Both speak to timeless things. Both are reminders for us to take moments in our busy lives to find places where we can stop, think, reflect and, after renewal and a deep breath, push on.
The Chapel of the Transfiguration in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, shown above. Location. Location. Location. This simple Chapel was built in 1925; it is a survivor made of lodge pole pine. Through decades of ice, wind, sun and snow, through the cycle of the seasons – death and new life – it has stood as a place of worship and contemplation in the midst of the exceptional beauty of the Grand Teton mountain range. The altar frames this spectacular view:
I’m sure every visitor to the Chapel of the Transfiguration takes this photograph. And why not. With the Grand Teton centered above the altar cross, our eyes go up. Up. It reminds us of the words of Psalm 121 (KJV):
I will lift mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved; he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.
As soon as you enter the Chapel you are aware of two stained glass windows – one on the left and one on the right – beautiful, artistic reminders of the natural beauty you see ahead through the window behind the altar:
The Chapel of the Transfiguration in the Grand Tetons of Wyoming. Stop, think, reflect, renew, push on.
Closer to home is a very different kind of Chapel in a very different kind of location.
The Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, Arizona, shown above. Location. Location. Location. The Chapel was built in 1956, perched high on a promontory of rock. It appears to be emerging out of its surroundings and in fact, until you get right up to it, you’re not even aware that it is there, so well does it integrate with all that is around. Here is a view of the Chapel from the Bell Rock/Courthouse Butte trail, below; the Chapel is in the exact center of the photograph:
Can you see it? Just a tiny speck of tan colored rock, but it is the Chapel of the Holy Cross, disguised as part of nature’s landscape. Inside, its altar frames a dramatic scene:
Secure on the rocks, the Chapel stands as a sentinel, looking out at the massive red rock formations of Sedona, not far from the Grand Canyon, majestic, solid, immovable. We are reminded of the words of the Psalmist (Psalm 93:1-2, NIV):
The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed in majesty and armed with strength; indeed, the world is established, firm and secure.
Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity.
Stop, think, reflect, renew, push on.
Paul Hindemith had it right with the closing words of his poem, The Posthorn:
Your task it is, amid confusion, rush and noise,
To find the lasting, calm and meaningful and, finding it anew,
To hold and treasure it.