A Serendipitous Drive

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic

This is a short essay about my first visit to the Presbyterian church where I've just been nominated to Elder status.

A Serendipitous Drive

During the years I spent as a truck driver, my routes often took me through many states outside of New Jersey. I saw the big cities and the more bucolic towns of Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, Massachusetts and Ohio to name a few. And of all the beautiful scenery I saw in these places, my propensity for old architecture always made me take special notice of Presbyterian churches. Being an avid woodworker, I marvelled at (and still do) the intricate and detailed woodworking of days gone by. In addition to the outward apearance of these grand old structures, there was also a certain felling (for me) that emanated from them. Even from a distance they gave off a warm feeling of welcome. They just looked "homey" to me.

In 2009 my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to attend a Presbyterian church that was near to my home. From there I attended other Presbyterian churches and concluded that this would be my new denomination. I was certain about my new choice of religion, I just wasn't sure which congregation I wanted to be a part of. Some months later on a day when I had some time to myself, I took a leisurely drive through one of my favorite "country" areas of Morris County. Turning down a road I hadn't been on in awhile, I suddenly saw a sign directing me to a Presbyterian church that I didn't even know existed. My curiosity piqued (again) so I followed the arrow that led me to a building that was in a severe state of disrepair. It was certainly old and grandiose, but it also gave every indication of being abandoned. I stopped in front of the church and scratched my head in wonder when I saw a sign that read, "Highlands Presbyterian Church" with a smaller sign under it that read, "Worship Sundays at 10am".I drove away feeling very curious about what the interior could possibly look like - but also knowing I would visit with this congregation as well.

A few weeks later, after some e-mail conversations with the Minister, I arrived for Service at 9:30am. I wanted to get there early so I could examine the entire place. Walking up the Bluestone steps I was greeted by a gentleman who handed me a paper with that days announcements and prayers on it. Stepping into the foyer (or the "Narthex" as they call it), I was immediately enveloped by the pleasing scent of old wood. The Sanctuary was filled back to front with old reddish/brown pews made from Chestnut. Stepping into the old Sanctuary and seating myself in the back, I took in the old building's atmosphere in a curious awe. Stained glass in arch shapes, a tremendously high ceiling and two monolithic plaques on the front walls facing the congregation. Several Bible verses lettered in a Pennsylvania German style Fraktur adorned each of them and were painted in radiant hues of blue, red and gold. I sat in my pew saying hello to the members around me and those walking past when I said to myself, "This is what church is supposed to be like".

A very down to earth service along with a heart-felt sermon held my attention for the entire hour. The Choir consisted of 10 women with beautiful voices that surprised me to no end. The end of the service was marked with a four verse song sung by the entire congregation to the tune of "Edelweiss":

May the Lord mighty God bless and keep you forever,

Grant you peace, perfect peace, courage in every endeavor,

Lift your eyes to see his face, and his grace forever,

May the Lord mighty God, bless and keep you forever.

On my way out, I found the good Reverend standing by the large main doors shaking hands with everyone so I stopped to introduce myself and told her how much I enjoyed the service and that I would be back next week. I left that day with a renewed spirit and couldn't wait to attend the next service. My visit to church that day brought back a good feeling for me, a feeling that I had been missing for a long time. It's my own believe that everyone should have a church they can go to for a weekly boost. A place you can go to on Sunday to get your batteries recharged. A place that you can stop into during the week to just sit and reflect - or just to sit and listen to the quiet. After all, it was Norman Vincent Peale who said, "If you go to a church where you're spiritually fed, that's like an inoculation of faith - and if you go every Sunday, that's fifty-two inoculations of faith a year built into you". Feeling the way I did after that first Highlands service, I couldn't agree more.

*All material is copyrighted 2010 Mark J. Beckert/Winterfarm books


Submitted: April 12, 2012

© Copyright 2022 markjbeckert. All rights reserved.

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