Just A Plain and Simple Chapel


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You’ll search and you’ll search but you’ll never find, no place on earth to gain peace of mind. But on MMU, one of the most peaceful spots is the Chapel of Mercy.

I’m not totally in love with the chapel—my taste in churches runs much more to old than to new—but it’s still a very impressive, and peaceful, place. The vaulted ceiling and octagonal shape make it unique on campus.

As a writing exercise, I took a class there today, to have them soak in the atmosphere and then try to use literary techniques to paint an accurate verbal picture.

It’s not easy. The chapel is a complex place, so I will cheat and add a slide show.

What impression did it make on students? Here are some of their, slightly edited for space and typos, descriptions:

  • You notice there are four stained glass windows, one for each direction on a compass; the alter faces east so in the morning the sun radiates through directly at where the holy priest would be, if he were there.
  • It almost has the appearance of a Nordic longhouse in the shape of a hollowed out pyramid. Four large stained-glass windows decorate the ceiling. The morning sun shines brightly through the stained-glass window facing to the east. It gives the chapel a sort of “holy glow.” Rows of pews stand in formation like an army ready for inspection. The white marble altar stands at the front on a carpeted platform as a commander ready to give marching orders.
  • When you walk in, your breath could quite possibly be taken away from the sheer size of it. Not that there are many pews, but just that ceiling height is stunning. When there are very few people in there, the room almost seems sort of hollow due to its height. The octagon shaped room features four stained glass windows. The three towards the front of the room are filled with squares and rectangles of red, blue, orange, and a few other colors. The rear window was a completely different color scheme featuring green, purple and yellow with a few shapes of red, blue and orange. It was this window that the sun was beating through. It left splashes of  green, purple and yellow on the plain, gray, speckled tile.

I am hoping to prod the students to use a few more metaphors, personifications and allusionw, but their descriptions were poetic. I am only quoting a few lines of each.  The chapel is one of my favorite spots on campus. And it seems to work OK as a writing muse, too.

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