Finding Inspiration in Small Places

Recently we returned from a wonderful trip to Europe, visiting several countries and seeing many fabulous sights. Near the end of our trip, we were able to spend about a week in Switzerland. We stayed in three different places with the last being the small town of Grindelwald, in the Alps.

A St.-Andrews parishioner, Stan, mentioned that we should visit a small church in the nearby town of Wengen with an English service if we were in Switzerland on a Sunday. As it turned out, we were indeed there on the right day so we planned to attend St. Bernard’s on our last Sunday.

Our first surprise was that you couldn’t drive to Wengen! Are you saying in the 21st Century you can’t drive to a town? Indeed, there are several small towns in Switzerland accessible only by rail or even aerial trams. We parked in a parking garage and got tickets to Wengen via a cog railway. The trip was only about 12 minutes but was through some spectacular scenery with high cliffs, waterfalls, spectacular mountains and lush meadows around every turn.

The journey was over too soon and we walked through town to a small church by following the bell ringing for several minutes. It was a small building, less than half our size, and would hold no more than 75 if all pews were occupied. It was beautiful in its simplicity and openness. There was a beautiful blue stained glass piece behind the altar and a tiny electric organ.

St. Bernard’s stained glass window on the altar

The sermon was by a visiting chaplain from England who was warm and funny and engaging. He spoke about the types and uses for prayer and how most everyone, even clergy, spend little time at prayer. We enjoyed his words very much and were moved by the message as well as the surroundings.

After service, we adjourned to a nearby hotel for coffee, tea, or lemonade. The church itself had no running water so could not make coffee on the premises. We enjoyed meeting other folks from various countries including others from the U.S.

On the way back to the train station, we asked a couple to take our photo on the steps of St. Bernard’s. He had a Mt. Rainier t-shirt on! Go figure!

While sitting there surrounded by mountains, glaciers, waterfalls and wonderful blue, clear sky it seemed to me that the whole scene was one huge prayer to the beauty and grandeur that God has provided for us. We need to take care of places like this and take care of ourselves. We will not soon forget our journey to this wonderful place and the journey in to our inner soul. Bless all of you.