Blessings Abound

Blessings Abound

As I travel around the country, through small towns and large, I notice the presence of many churches.  The stained glass windows of many catch my eye, as the sun glints through them.   I don’t often have the time to stop and take a picture, but when I am able, I cherish the moment.   There are times, as I travel through town, there seems to be a church on every corner.  Churches of different denomination yet, just in it’s presence, the message is universal.

Today, as we made our way through town, I began again to notice the churches.  I noticed the architecture of the different buildings, the windows, and most important- the open door of most.  As I was taking a quick snapshot of one such church, a kind gentleman asked if I had seen inside yet.  I replied I had not, and he smiled and said  ” come inside I will show you”.  I walked to the car where my son was waiting, telling him to come along and see inside.

As we walked inside Don, the gentleman leading the way, explained that this particular church, with its stone exterior, bell tower, rich wood interior and traditional stained glass windows, was designed after English country churches common in the 1800s. Built in 1892, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The worship space seats about one hundred twenty people and houses both a pipe organ and a grand piano. The sanctuary underwent a comprehensive historical restoration in 1993. Standing in the church with the sunlight shining through the stained glass windows, the beautiful woods of the pews and ceiling were so warm and inviting, a very welcoming building. I suppose if I lived in this town, I might make this “my church”, but since I do not, I will be content with my visit today.

We thanked Don for the visit and went on our way.  Even though I don’t live here, or worship here, I felt peace and comfort in his church, and, in turn, this town.  I know I will miss this area when we finally move along, but will take with me the blessings we have discovered.

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Buildings of Faith

A few months ago I took a weekend for myself; marked off one of the things on my bucket list.  I went zip lining through the redwood trees.  Wow, what an experience!   I would definitely do it again.  Sliding along the cables, high up in the trees, such a rush and feeling of freedom, it was awesome.  In a sense too, it was faith building.

After my afternoon zipping along amidst the trees, feeling exhilarated by life, I headed to the nearby beach for some more faith building. Walking along the beach, listening to the  crash of the waves, the squawk of the seagulls, the laughter of the children nearby, I was basking in the sun and feeling a bit more faithful.

During my stroll along the beach, I began chatting with a woman as she was watching her kids play.  Come to find out, they lived in a town not far from me and were at the beach with their local church group.  In the course of the conversation, she asked where I went to church.  I was honest and told her I don’t GO to a church, and while I do have my beliefs, I’m not so sure I need to be in a building to have faith.  I could see by the look on her face and the way she almost imperceptibly  shuddered,  she didn’t agree with the fact I didn’t sit in a building to worship.

As we parted ways, the kind woman made it a point to explain to me that I would be happier if I went to church. I stood there on the beach, watching the waves, feeling the calmness around me, seeing the beauty and wondered.  As much as I like churches- some buildings are beautiful- does it make me any less faithful if I don’t go in?

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Growing up,  my family went to church on Sunday, and we had our catechism class on Saturday.  Having Saturday class sure interrupted some good play time!  Hard to listen to the lessons when many of your friends are out playing baseball and riding bikes.  With so much out there to explore and see, I couldn’t imagine why we had to sit in a stuffy old room ON A SATURDAY!

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With 9 kids, getting everyone up, dressed, fed and to church on time, was not an easy task for my parents.  As some things have a tendency to do,  those weekly forays to our place of worship became less and less.  I think it was more a matter of logistics than anything else.  Does that make us any less faithful?  Some might think so.

No matter what your belief, or who you pray to, is it any less  valid if you don’t sit in a church?