The Little Church Around the Corner

We were walking back from a bookstore in NYC where the motto is “18 miles of books” when our daughter said “I have something special to show you! It’s less  than a block from here.” We had already walked over 45 city blocks on this crisp day after Thanksgiving – what was a half block out of our way?

We took a right on 29th Street just off 5th Avenue and immediately knew this was something special. A beautiful little church sat there – away from crowds and chaos, beautiful and hallowed. We walked into a small sanctuary with old benches facing the cross and altar and beautiful windows and woodwork carvings all around, but there was more. Walking up to the front and taking a sharp left we found ourselves in a tiny chapel, set apart and empty. A prayer kneeler stood at the front with the Book of Common Prayer lying open. Stained glass windows reflected the light offering a glimpse of another world.

It was perfect. As close to perfect as we can find in this world.

Someone had told our daughter about it – said that it was the ideal place to come to sort out thoughts and ask for peace when the city feels too overwhelming, too distracting, too much. She was right. 

It was difficult to remember that the Empire State Building was a block away, that millions of people lived and worked steps from this place, that here in this massive chaos that is New York City there is a place of such visible peace.

When life feels too overwhelming, too distracting, too much —  it’s important to know where to go to sort it all out. When we need to catch a vision and live life above the noise and beyond the crowds, when we need a “slipping away in a boat on the Galilee” moment, where do we go? Can we find a place that offers respite and quiet? A sanctuary where we can hear God?

This is what I long for this season – to find places of quiet that remind me of what Advent is and how I am called to live. A little church around the corner to offer a glimpse of another world. A place and space set apart offering me the eternal even as the temporal calls so insistently.

Today and through this season, may you find your little church around the corner, your space and place of peace that offers you rest and comfort — an invitation to set aside what seems urgent and spend time on what is it important.

21 thoughts on “The Little Church Around the Corner

  1. Beautiful. I’m an architecture nut, and find old buliding calming and inviting. I love that the Bible uses bulidings and land/plants in so much of it’s descriptions about the safety, security and beauty of God, and how we find sanctuary not just in the words, but in places as well. Two of my favourites are Psalm 48vs12-14, and Jeremiah 17vs7+8.

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  2. Thank you, Marilyn, for this. Reminded me very much of a similar church in Exeter, England (where I went to university many, many years ago). St Pancras is a very small church (46 feet by 16) that dates back possibly to the fourth century! It now sits as a quiet haven in the open in the center of a large shopping center that was built around it.

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      1. There are so,e pictures as well as information available online, search for “St Pancras, Exeter”. I have uploaded a few pictures I took last time I was there and you can see them here:https://picasaweb.google.com/111295371471713069187/StPancrasExeter?authuser=0&feat=directlink. If you check out this map (http://goo.gl/maps/98CTh) you can see the church in the centre, it will give you a better idea of how it sits amidst the shopping centre.

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  3. As I read your post, I reminisce about the wonderful churches in Germany. Where architecture and divinity seem to be intertwined creating a sanctuary for all — churchgoers and visitors alike. Hope you and your family had a blessed Thanksgiving, Petra

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    1. I love these words – architecture and divinity. I look at some of the newer churches in suburbs and feel this sadness – they just aren’t beautiful. The other thing is that these churches in cities like this are open a good bit of the time – anyone can go in.

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  4. A little treasure in the city. I love stumbling upon those kinds of places. It has history and significance to many people I’m sure – wedding, funerals, etc. And it offers a place of mental rest for anyone who needs solitude. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. Lovely inspiring blogpost Marilyn and lovely church. I’ve been to it, it is truly a sanctuary. I’ve made going into these little old churches a habit, as well as lighting a candle in them. The world just seems to stop for a few minutes when I do.

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    1. Annelies – I love that you know where this is and have been there! It is like time stops no matter how long or short a time you stay there, it’s hallowed time. I wish I had lit a candle….next time.. Thank you.

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