Every morning I wake up and make my way in my pajamas to the coffee pot in our kitchen. Ever since we got married, my husband lovingly has set the coffee so that it’s brewed before I get there. I pour a pottery mug full of hot black coffee. I cherish that first sip in the morning that I typically drink standing next to the coffee pot. While I enjoy the smell, flavor, and warmth of my first sip of morning coffee, it is what this morning ritual begins that matters the most to me: visiting my inner chapel.
After that first sip of coffee, I slowly carry my mug into my home office and make my way to a chair tucked into the corner of the room. I sit and settle into this chair that greets me each morning before the rest of my household is awake. As I lean back, I survey the sacred space around me. The pottery plaque that reads Be Still. The cross that a retreatant gave me after a retreat I facilitated. An image of Mother Mary. A picture of my family.
My body immediately knows what I am about to do as I survey the sights, savor the smells, and feel the familiar comfort of my prayer chair. I take a deep breath in, and as I exhale, I lean my head back against the chair, close my eyes, and enter my inner chapel—the sacred space within me where only God resides.
My inner chapel is the place where I begin each day. The visits each day are in the silence; however, I am never alone when I go there. When I enter this sacred space within me, I am coming to be with God.
Many mornings my prayer begins with thanking God that someone cared enough to teach me that my inner chapel existed in the first place. From there, I trust the Holy Spirit to bring me to the prayer method I am being invited to that day. Many days I savor Scripture, other days I pray the Examen, and some days I simply sit and rest in the gift of God’s presence.
Over two decades of visiting my inner chapel each morning, it has become my home, my sanctuary, the safest place I know. Through visiting it each day, I’ve come to discover the promises of God—promises such as realizing that I am never alone, that I belong to someone, that I am unconditionally loved, and that I am fully seen and offered mercy. Visiting here each day, I’ve come to know Jesus intimately as a friend, and he has become as real to me as my husband and children are.
My first morning sip of coffee marks the beginning of a daily ritual that transformed and continues to transform my life. I invite you to find a time every day that you, too, can go to your inner chapel and let your life be transformed.
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash.
Coffee with God is how I begin my day!
Thank you! I’m trying to move deeper into my Inner Chapel and this helps.
Thanks for the beautiful image of the inner chapel Becky! It makes me look forward to my morning prayer time in a new way, a way of more deeply connecting with God within my inner chapel!
What a gifted woman of deep contemplative spirituality, faith and practicality you are, Becky. Thank you for “the inner chapel” reality in prayer. I am so excited to be making your six week retreat online and have sent your information to all our Diocesan Spiritual Directors as well. What I value so much is your reverence for Ignatian Spirituality and Discernment which is so precious to me also. Peace and blessings on you, your outreach to us and your lucky family to have you!
Becky, thank you. Your faith and sincerity shine through your words. Along with my inner chapel, which is usually in the evening, I have started to keep a journal of my Bible reading.
The question I’m asked most often is “How do YOU pray?” It’s always asked by someone who yearns for a “magic bullet” answer to their desire for a better prayer experience. I will save your reflection. It says very simply what needs to be said, and that’s that there is no magic bullet. It is about developing a habit, getting to your inner chapel where God resides. And like any relationship, it’s different every day because it’s a relationship, not a formula. Thank you for putting this into words. I look forward to reading your new book, I love the title, The Inner Chapel. I know that you won’t mind that I will coin the label “inner chapel” for my own God space. I know that your heart is for all to get to know the beauty and joy of intimacy with our awesome creator, friend, and lover, God.
Thanks Becky. The inner chapel reminds me of what the Reverend Adolfo Nicolas had said in one of his interviews. ‘We all carry an inner chapel within us’.
Thank you for a reflection that touched the heart strings in my wife and myself. Your routine and inner chapel time sounds much like our daily routine since we retired. There is coffee and the time with reading, Mass on the TV or internet, and prayer. Starting most days by conversing with Jesus is both reassuring and sustaining.
Fully agree. I have found my inner chapel too which is a platform bed near the window overlooking a group of trees with butterflies flying from branches to branches. I will pray and reflect the scripture and end with the rosary. Tks for your write up.
What a great description ‘The Inner Chapel’ That expression will stay with me next time I’m there !
(Normally at night)
oh my! How I love the serendipity, the gift, of Becky’s sharing of her sacred space morning ritual – just a day after I journaled on own morning ritual, inspired by “On Being’s” “Poetry Unbound.” The reflection that followed a reading of “Prayer” by Faisal Mohyuddin was: “What rituals do you use to anchor yourself?”
Very nice . Could you also do it if you didn’t have a loving husband pre programming the coffee pot? How much more difficult is it for those who are alone ( you have husband and children for now) to feel they are never alone? That people,s story is the one I want to read.
Ruth – My heartfelt prayers, and a walking rosary, will be all for you today. Please know you are not alone.
Funny you should mention living alone. As I did my daily morning Examen, the strongest feeling that emerged was awareness of those who feel alone. Felt such strong feelings of sadness and empathy for Covid patients who are isolated from their loved family members and friends. My petition to God was to somehow help these patients feel God’s presence who promised He would never leave e us alone. I became aware and grateful for God’s friendship with me, which filled me with such strong feelings of hope, joy and peace. I live with 3 isolating adult family members. My friendship with God is what keeps me spiritually healthy for remembering daily where I see God. Yesterday, the cheerfulness of the attendant behind a shield who gave me a pedicure brought me such joy. He was fully into making sure that I was feeling good during the whole process. I was so grateful for his courage in pursuing his profession in the midst of Covid. My tip for him was larger than I usually give out of gratitude for his skills and cheerful attitude.