We spent last weekend in New York; Will had a gymnastics meet at West Point. Thanks to the organizing of many team parents, we had a hotel together, ate meals together, watched football together, and toured West Point together. The one-hour bus tour was just enough to keep the kids engaged and this particular adult fascinated. One stop was the West Point Cadet Chapel. Famous for the largest pipe organ in the world – with 23,500+ organ pipes throughout, the Chapel is where Protestant services are held. “Chapel” is West Point-ese for any place of worship on the grounds, be it a church or a synagogue: it’s a chapel. This particular Chapel felt like a cathedral, belying the smallness of the term “chapel.”
The Gothic architecture of this building sets the tone for the whole campus, but the style is tweaked with tall walls and “crenelations” – those notches in the tops of walls that suggest a Medieval castle or a place of defense; hence West Point's buildings architectural style of “Military Gothic.”
On ornate Gothic churches, spires shoot toward heaven. Military Gothic inspired buildings are missing that last aspiration upward. Their soaring walls stop heavily and abruptly with notched parapets that seem to have the sole purpose of looking downward to protect.
The architecture of the interior of the chapel was spectacular, but honestly, the books in the pews drew my eye more than the vaulted ceiling and stained glass windows. Their sheer perfection made this perfectionist-in-non-stop-recovery-mode grin.
Row after row, the hymnals and Bibles were in perfect line. And I couldn’t help but assume that this is how the worshipers put them back after every service. Surely the sexton didn’t need to straighten these. This was West Point; people here know what to do after they get something out. They put it away.
On the way home, while I was thinking I should implement more routines in our daily lives, Will declared, “I am never coming here.” Coincidentally, this morning after breakfast, Will cleared all his dishes and put the cereal and milk away -- which gave me a bit of a jolt. ...Thank you, West Point?!?