“We must cherish one another, watch over one another, comfort one another, and gain instruction that we may all sit down in heaven together.” ― Lucy Mack Smith
I gave myself a gift a few weeks ago. I revisited the church of my childhood as part of the grieving process of losing both parents within 23 days of one another. Not only was I confirmed at Maryland Presbyterian Church but my father’s company F.C. Batton and Son built the sanctuary. (Batton Builders is now the second arm of the business that was incorporated in 1902 and is now 5 generations deep).
Entering through the doors and walking the beautiful property of Maryland Presbyterian Church held great sentimental value. The church has won several conservation and sustainability awards. Their Memorial Gardens are gorgeous on the four-acre wooded property. The mayapples (ground covering) were in full bloom.
As luck would have it that day, the church historian was sitting in the library and she greeted me. We talked about my faith beginnings at the Maryland Presbyterian Church. She pulled out all stops – showing me emphemra that went back to the church’s beginnings. “Oh look,” I’d say as we browsed the photo albums reciting the names of families who were also active in the church. Images of my parents were scattered throughout.
“Come here!” Karen said excitedly, “there’s something else I want you to see!” There in the Narthex was the orginal charter of the church. I located my parents two signatures on the upper part of the document, and Dad’s name (Frederick C Batton) was the first listed under the charter group of Deacons. I couldn’t help but reach out and touch the glass covering the document. I placed my fingers where my parents names were inscribed.
After viewing the document, my emissary Karen asked “You are going to stay for the church service, aren’t you?”
“Of course, I wouldn’t miss it!” I responded.
“You’ll know some people!”
After the service I was greeted by a few familiar faces who are still active in the church. Now they are in their late eighties and nineties. One of them was the wife of the 2nd pastor who led the church during my teen years. What a delight it was to see them.
My last minute decision to visit the church of my childhood brought feelings of complete joy and fulfillment, not sadness as I expected. It sat well for the journey of life ahead without my parents. As I drove home in silence I thought about the words I’d heard before but so many times ignore.
“Listen to you own voice, your own soul. Too many people listen to the noise of the world instead of themselves.”
(Photo above – Stained Glass window at Maryland Presbyterian Church)
Amen and Alleluia!
Celebrate beautiful homecomings
whether they are here
on Earth or in heaven!
This blog brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, award-winning author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected and Sew the Heart.