Monday, May 4, 2009

Take off your shoes...

Holy Ground

I try to make a monthly trip to the Salzmann Library at St. Francis de Sales Seminary to nourish my soul with knowledge and serenity. It is a trip that I look forward to with much anticipation and consider it to be one of my favorite forms of prayer.

As I ramble down the city streets through the busy evening traffic, music blaring on the radio, my heart is filled with joy at having some time away by myself. When I arrive at the Seminary grounds, I turn off the radio and slowly enter the long, tree-lined drive. My soul is immediately silenced in the hush of this quiet beauty, while my heart leaps toward heaven. I believe that this is one of the most peaceful places on earth. While I quietly and slowly drive under the shade of the canopy of trees, I also feel shaded in the canopy of God’s love and I can’t help but let a sigh of sweet relief escape from my mouth as I recall Psalm 121-“The Lord is your shade”.

I approach the statue of St. Francis de Sales and whisper a quick prayer of thanksgiving and love to my favorite saint. I thank him for being such a great source of inspiration to me, for encouraging me to write and to share my faith with others.

Once I step out of the van, I am overcome by the lovely quiet. I am completely alone with only the sound of the birds to break the silence.

Something about this place really makes me slow down and try to soak in every little piece of it. I embrace the lovely old brick buildings with my eyes and admire the natural beauty of the trees, grass and flowers. Here, past, present and future are all connected. These grounds are timeless, a reflection of the timelessness of God. I feel relaxed as I surrender all of my worries and cares, and for once, I really am living in the moment. A true joy enters my very essence; I can’t help but smile from gratitude for this special place that feels like home to me.

As I slowly walk up the library steps, and pull the heavy door open, I feel a bit of excitement over the treasures that await me in the stacks of books. There is nothing I love better than reading, especially books of prayer that draw me close to God. I get lost amid the books, and feel a little bit guilty about the large stack of them that I balance in my arms on the way to check out.

Here, at the check out desk, I find another treasure. The Salzmann Library employs the dearest librarian in the world. Kathy Frymark is a real gem who makes everyone feel most welcome. I have never been to a library before where the librarian has ordered new books with me in mind, knowing that I will enjoy them. I apologize for my spiritual avarice in taking so many books with me, and she reassures me that she understands with her gentle comments such as, “There’s just something comforting about having a big pile of books nearby.” She is truly a kindred spirit!

All too soon, it seems my time here has come to an end. I walk slowly from the library to the van, savoring every moment of my precious time on this Holy Ground. I thank God for the Seminary of St. Francis de Sales and the Salzmann Library. They are sure signs to me that God loves his church in Milwaukee and he loves me as well. I ask for his continued blessings on St. Francis de Sales Seminary and all of the people who are inspired to grow in his love here.

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