We have been ‘there and back again’ while finding peace

Published 7:18 pm Saturday, August 12, 2017

To borrow the words of J. R. R. Tolkien from The Hobbit, we have been “There and back again.” 

It is good to be home after a wonderful trip across this vast land of ours, driving to California and then back home again.

We saw beautiful sights, amazing landscapes and rain in the desert. Having my morning coffee and prayer time on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon was beautiful and spiritual.

The natural beauty and immensity of the Grand Canyon as part of God’s creation touches my soul and makes me think of the transcendence and immanence of God.

Those images and remembrances sustain me. As memories begin to fade, being in the presence of God, knowing the silence of the still small voice and seeing beauty that calls me to holiness does not have to wait for the next trip west.

It is good to be home and find here, too, at Christ Church the beauty of holiness, glimpses of the kingdom in the lives of God’s saints, and the same peace I found in a morning at the Canyon.

Thanks be to God that throughout Vicksburg and this area, there are opportunities to “turn aside . . . from the tumult.”

At Christ Church, we read Morning Prayer Monday through Friday with the morning sun coming through the beautiful stained glass windows. In our noonday service on Wednesday, we offer prayers for healing in a room filled with hope.

Anyone who seeks is likely to find God’s presence in unexpected ways and places. In this area, we have beauty and goodness, which remind us of our creator. The view over the river, the voice of a friend, and news in the paper of people helping each other, may open our hearts and minds to know the immanence and the transcendence and the peace of God. 

Willie Nelson sang, “At a time when the world seems to be spinning hopelessly out of control…” That is the time to turn aside, to visit the holy, to find peace and to rest awhile in God.

Whether sitting on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, standing on the banks of the Mississippi or worshiping within any of the communities of the faithful in this area, the following prayer, written by Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, rings true: “Come now, little man, turn aside from your daily employment, escape for a moment from the tumult of your thoughts. Put aside your weighty cares, let your burdensome distractions wait, free yourself awhile for God and rest awhile in him. Enter the inner chamber of your soul, shut out everything except God and that which can help you in seeking him, and when you have shut the door, seek him. Now, my whole heart, say to God, ‘I seek your face, Lord, it is your face I seek.’”

(Written by Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1033-1109.  Found in Eerdmans’ Book of Famous Prayers. p. 27.)

The Rev. Sam Godfrey is rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Vicksburg. You may reach him at sambgodfrey@hotmail.com.