During a Taize Prayer Service, I once sat in this chapel and sang the words: My soul, in silence, waits ... or as T.S Elliott (in East Coker, Four Quartets) wrote: "I said to my soul be still and wait."
I've always loved Duke Chapel, not when there are services but when the chapel is empty. I used to sit in the sanctuary, or in the crypt beneath the sanctuary, simply to sit in the silence and to wait. Unfortunately, except for late at night, Duke Chapel is never empty for very long. People come in to look, to take photos, to light a candle, or to say a prayer, and they disturb the silence.
For whatever reason, each time I've spent any length of time in Duke Chapel simply sitting, I've been the only one to do so. No one else came in to simply sit and wait. Truthfully, I could sit in this chapel for hours and hours, and sometimes I did when I was a student at Duke in Divinity School.
I'm not sure why THIS chapel brings out this particular desire in me. No other chapel has drawn from me such a desire --- not the chapel inside the Divinity School, which is quite lovely, nor the Cathedral at Notre Dame (Notre Dame, IN) not even Notre Dame in Paris. I wasn't compelled to sit in silence and wait.
I hadn't been to Duke Chapel in years, but last week I popped by the Divinity School for a visit and was curious to see if Duke Chapel still brought out in me this compelling desire. Luckily, at the time I stopped by the Chapel there were no services and the chapel was empty. And the old familiar desire returned as soon as I stepped inside. The silence greeted me, as the cliche goes, like a long lost friend: someone I missed dearly and didn't want to leave. So I sat in the silence until my parking meter time ran out, which of course ran out much too soon. And I snapped this photo before leaving, hoping somehow I could take the silence with me.
To see a larger version of this photo please view it in my online portfolio: http://anenchantedforest.zenfolio.com/p209083706/h2c034bcc#h2c034bcc