Recently my wife Regina and I traveled to the University of the South at Sewanee. Twenty-seven years ago we moved there to begin a 3 year residential Episcopal seminary program. They were years filled with boundless blessings, moments of highs and lows in faith, and the start of what has been a vocation that has been full of great joys and sorrows.

We made our recent trip to visit our eldest daughter Elizabeth who is in her last semester at Sewanee in the undergraduate Liberal Arts program.

Sewanee is located about 45 miles from Chattanooga and 90 miles from Nashville. The setting is very rural, wooded, and the campus sits atop a forested plateau. The campus is well over 10,000 acres surrounded by mile after mile of uninhabited land. The buildings have a striking resemblance to Oxford University.

While in seminary and each subsequent visit, we have come to love many people in the area and the magnificent beauty of the setting. Yes, some stereotypes both good and not so positive, remain in that part of the country. But that said, it is a blessed place to be, study, learn, and live.

In the middle of the campus stands All Saints’ Chapel. To most people who see it, the word Chapel is a vast understatement as it looks like a grand cathedral in Europe. To those who venture off the interstate and drive 5 miles to the campus, most are astonished and greatly surprised to find such a massive, beautiful structure in the middle of “nowhere.”

As I thought about this on our trip while sitting in the Chapel, which is pictured, I was reminded that astonishing surprises are often to be found in unexpected places and moments. That if we are open and willing to “take a detour” now and then, we create opportunities to encounter the unexpected. The unexpected through which we receive blessings and joys from God.

I invite you to think back to the unexpected wonderful surprises you have encountered over the years and to be open to new ones that will come your way. And it is important to remember that sometimes we need to “take a side road,” so to speak, from the one we are on to experience such things.

Robert +