‘So how are you liking it here?’
- Timothy Sommer
- Jul 18, 2013
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'So how are you liking it here?'
Everyone asks me this question once they learn that I’m new on staff at Holy Innocents’. Reflecting on my time here so far makes me recall the words of St. Jerome, “Early impressions are hard to eradicate from the mind.” If you were to step into my mind and enter the newly created section labeled Holy Innocents’, then behind a table readily stocked with coffee, wine, and cheese, you would find three doors, each leading to a major impression that the parish has made on me since I arrived in June.
Behind the first door you’d find the impression of holiness left by the sacred space of the building itself. The first time I walked into the church I immediate felt a sense of prayerfulness and intentionality at work. This divine feeling subtly strikes me each time I enter the doors, whether it’s elicited by the sun shining through the chapel in a moment of quiet, the dance of blue across the sanctuary walls, or the look of newly hung paintings in the Ventulett Gallery. For me, the artistry and architecture of the space is a calm invitation for prayer and contemplation—what this month’s pilgrims to Ireland would call a ‘thin’ place, where the veil between the present and the eternal is thin.
Behind the next door you’d find the impression of kindness and community left by the people of Holy Innocents’. Having spent my life in the North (the furthest south I lived before coming to Atlanta was Connecticut) I had always heard of ‘southern hospitality,’ and I would occasionally meet someone from the south who I thought had this quality. Experiencing the embrace of an entire Episcopal community steeped in southern hospitality, however, is something entirely unique for me. Not even two months have passed since my arrival and I already feel like I’m finding a new spiritual home and family at Holy Innocents’. Experiencing such an intimate welcome makes it easy for me to invite others to partake in the community.
Behind the last door you’d find the impression of creativity and liveliness left by the activities at the church. From morning prayer, to art openings, to a lawn filled with live animals for Vacation Bible School, to pilgrimages to Ireland, to youth mission trips in South Carolina, to book clubs, young adult brunches, and a new Sunday morning series called ‘Preachers on Preaching,’ I can honestly say that more engaging events are going on at Holy Innocents’ than almost any other parish I’ve been to.
In case you haven’t had the chance or time to meet me yet, I hope these early impressions give some indication of how I’m liking it here. For those who have met me, I can only hope your first impression of me has been as positive as mine has been of you.