This morning, I got up, got my running clothes and shoes on and headed to St John's to run the trail to Stella Maris Chapel. This tiny chapel is nestled in the woods about 1.5 miles out from the main campus of St Johns. The trail is exquisite, especially this time of year! Leaves left over from fall cover the trail, and bits of green are beginning to peak through all dying and decaying leftovers of fall. The pine trees are HUGE and besides the occasional person or two you meet along the way, it's just you and nature. Wow, what a freeing feeling. I started running around 10 - just in time to see the sun peeking through the trees into the dark and cool forrest trail. Occasionally, you pass a stone bridge or wooden trail crossing the lake.
Seriously, it's a stunning place. I think it means a lot since there are so many memories that go along with it. The first time i set eyes on the place was Summer of 2007. They had just started renovations, and the chapel was completely white with no windows - just holes where the windows were going to eventually be.
August 2007 - white Stella Maris
Truthfully, i think i liked it better this way - simplicity is beautiful. The countless times i've been there since, i marvel at the progress they made and now, the end result. The chapel has beautiful stained glass windows that allow the sun to seep in and send colorful beams across the tile floor. It's painted a brownish color with a huge blue door! AHH i love it!
September 2009 - Stella Maris :)
April 2008: Big stained glass window during renovations (the wet floor reflects it :P)
But, until today, i never fully took advantage of the chapel. Yes, i love taking pictures of and with people here, but i never actually just...dwelled in it. Today, I read that it was a place for pilgrimage and prayer. I sat in this random fold out chair and just..took in the whole place. Rested, after a painful run. And prayed. Gosh, so so freeing. I was able to smile at all the memories and praise GOD! This song came on my ipod (listen to it below, it's called You by Hillsong) and just broke me down. What a strategic place Stella Maris chapel was built - in the middle of nowhere, requiring any traveler to venture through the woods, up and down steep trails and tough terrain. Surely, a place for pilgrims. A true reward after a strenuous journey. Oh my goodness, how our relationship with the Lord is exactly like this! He calls us on journeys and ultimately, He is with us through it all and waiting at the end. He brings rest, He brings restoration. The Lord has been breaking me and breaking me, but this time, within the sacred walls of Stella Maris, it was different. I could praise Him and rejoice and dance and WORSHIP Him in the breakdown. He is so good. SO GOOD. He never fails, His love is deep and wide, He is a sinners' refuge and a safe place. He NEVER changes, never fails or falters. What a God we love. :)
Thank you, Lord, for the journey. Thank you thank you for allowing us, even beckoning us to dwell in You. To rest in You. You are mighty. May You break us and break us until we are solely Yours. God, reign down. Reign in our hearts and over our lives. Our lives are nothing without You, God. Thank You for places like Stella Maris. Thank You for Your beauty, Your incredible creations. All i am is YOURS.