Outside of Camp Atterbury near Edinburgh, Indiana is a small chapel in the middle of a meadow surrounded by woods. Built by Italian POWs during World War Two, many of whom were artisans, they asked and were given permission to build a small chapel out of scrap materials in the prison camp. To find this slice of heaven, you turn off a nondescript two-lane county road, drive down a windy one-lane gravel road for a few miles and then in the middle of nowhere appears the Chapel in the Meadow.
It’s a powerful symbol of hope, a temple to the light of purpose that shines in all of us regardless of our faith, creed, or beliefs. These POWs found a way to seek the divine in the midst of imprisonment and war.
In our darkest moments, somewhere deep inside us there resides our own “Chapel in the Meadow”. It could be faith, it could be our children, it could be a lost dream, a loved one, a journey we want to take; whatever the vision, it is waiting for you to discover – not in spite of, but with the rubble of life. All our experiences, good and bad, provide the raw material, drive, and desire to make our lives better. Just like the Italian artisans of WWII building a chapel out of scraps.
I just learned about a group that meets at Willow Creek Community Church near Chicago consisting of motorcyclists. Every Sunday when the weather is suitable, they ride to church, park in the same place, sit together, and then after the service go on a ride.
To those who haven’t ridden before, this might seem strange, even a little show over substance. Let me tell you, it makes perfect sense. My first thought was of the long motorcycle trip I took after being disability discharged from the Marines. I was angry at the world, angry at God, disgusted with myself and stewing over what I thought was nothing but a bleak future. My military career was over and in my mind, I was just a failure.
But the power of the open road seemed to release my spirit with each passing mile. Just the road, my motorcycle, and God’s creation, the miracle of our existence and the wonder to just be alive seemed to override all the pain I was still struggling to overcome.
Yes, this group of riders makes perfect sense. You worship God, then you ride free in a world we are so blessed to live in.
Deeds not words – Some time ago I was privileged to visit Fort Drum, NY, home of the 10th Mountain Division. They have a memorial garden there for all the men and women who have died in combat. In the midst of this beautiful garden is a plaque with a fitting description, “Deeds Not Words.”
This is a good thing to remember on this Memorial Day. It’s easy to spend a day barbequing while lounging by the lake or pool. For a few minutes we can raise a beer, toast our deceased vets, and feel patriotic. But these are words, what are our deeds?
To give your life for your fellow man is a sacrifice and action that can only come from the deepest commitments and motivations. In places like the mountains of Afghanistan, the jungles of Vietnam, the bloody beaches of Iwo Jima, and the brutally cold winter of the Battle of the Bulge, actions define the individual. Some of the greatest heroes I’ve met traveling our great country are the quietest, most unassuming people you will ever meet. They spoke, and speak with their actions.
What actions are you doing to honor the freedoms our brave men and women in the military have fought for? How are you living your life? Do you muddle through your day wishing you were doing something else?
Well, I believe that in a country where freedom still comes with a price, and you truly have the most opportunities of anywhere in the world, you owe it to everyone who has come before you to live a life of incredible purpose, passion, and joy.
Honor our fallen heroes not with words, but with actions. Live your life with as much passion, purpose, and dedication as they gave theirs.
Deeds, not words.
This picture was taken at sunset somewhere on California’s Highway One north of San Francisco. It was an ordinary day when my wife and I decided to go for some coffee and a drive. We raced to the coast in order to see the sunset and arrived just in time to capture this magical photo.
I’ve kept the above picture on the desktop of my computer for years to remind me that it’s hard to find magic when you don’t leave the house. Every journey has a beginning and each step toward the horizon so to speak always takes you one step closer to something magical.
Grab a camera, a hot cup of coffee, and then either wake up early for sunrise or arrive in time for sunset at your favorite destination and chronicle a moment of wonder. Sometimes all it takes is just a little effort to find something unexpected and wonderful.
Here are some traveling trips on Highway One from GoCalifornia.com: Practical Tips to Traveling the One!
And here are some more ideas on Highway One from National Geographic: Click Here for Road Trip Info!