I love old buildings. I want to know their history. I want to know the stories that people had inside them. Occasionally, I am drawn to a building for no apparent reason. A higher percentage of these seem to be churches.
The older the building, the stronger the force is for me and the desire to commune with those walls. It seems that churches have so much power in them. This seems to be true even when their useful days are far behind them. I truly believe it is the presence of God, powerful prayers, and the deep commune that has an everlasting energy to the old church buildings.
While driving in downtown Missoula, Montana in mid April I felt a pull to check out a steeple in the distance. I reached an amazing old world brick church structure. The surrounding manicured lawns, statues, and trees were just amazing. The old yet still useful church sits on Orange Street and Pine. It is the Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church and officially opened in 1892. It was the largest church in Montana for a long time. I’d wondered how many times I’d driven by this structure and not noticed it before.
I stood out front not really knowing why I was there or what drew me to that spot. So instead of questioning the reasons why I was there I just was “still” and listened. Being “still” is an important adult lesson I wish I could teach my younger self. The ability to listen to things unexplained and go deeply into spots that normally are missed.
Not to take this blog into a deep spiritual moment but it really is impossible to not explain what happened next and have any kind of conclusion to this story. As I stood there listening to the trees rustle and breathing in the fresh Montana air I became deeply overcome. It led to deep prayer for something I had no idea what I was praying for. I will be honest it was deep enough to bring me to tears. Praying for something you have no idea what it is can be deeply powerful, yet almost scary. Releasing your human bonds on this type of prayer can be an exhilarating experience.
Almost as suddenly as the moment had hit me the moment faded. Then my phone buzzed with a text. My mother. My sister was in great distress over her very close friend losing her child right then and there. It had just happened. I can’t explain. I don’t even want to attempt to explain it but I have no doubt God put me in that spot to pray. To send as much strength as I could to my sister and her friend.
While I’d like to express how deep of a moment this was for me it is very hard to convey those terms in writing. Sure there are many alternative answers to what might have happened in this situation but to me this was not coincidence.
Too me these walls that drew me near were not happenstance. Too me they were walls that spoke with the power, a place I was able to commune deeply.
So next time you feel drawn to a place, listen. You never know what the ole walls might say.
Here is a link to the history of this building. The men and women of faith that have traveled through these walls all have stories, trials, pains, joys, and witnesses to God’s greatness just like you: Saint Francis Xavier.