The Parish Church
St. John
Crawley Towne Centre


Oh what you have seen over the centuries
Standing so stately in Crawley Town Centre
What stories you could tell.
Laughter and celebrations - weddings and baptisms
All have graced your sacred halls
Cries and shrieks of deepest sorrow
Have also echoed against your aged-walls
You have blessed the arrivals and departures
All with equanimity.

Oh what you have seen over the centuries
In the Middles Ages you began,
Armored soldiers entered your new doors
Taking a respite from the ardor of war
Centuries later you heard the bombs falling
Only a short distance from the Town of Crawley
Again you remained untouched
For future generations to enter.

You may not remember
But a few years ago on a summer day
I too sought momentary sanctuary within your walls
On a journey to Oxford in '97
By chance, I stopped in Crawley Town Centre
While exploring and gazing in this old English village
I came upon you
Standing quietly amidst the modern hurried pace
Walking by your portals, I sensed your entreaty
"Come worship on the morrow," was your plea to me.

Sunday morning, I stood by your door.
Wondering whether to enter or leave
Parishioners passed smiling by
But no invitation given
Then a women, Kate was her name,
At least five score or more
Took my arm inviting me in
She spoke of her church, her husband recently gone
and of the son she would soon see.
I remember little of what the Priest had to say
I simply felt that we were all akin.

Sitting in the pew, I heard your sermon
And the faint haunting voices from those before.
Speaking of your history and all you have seen
Thank you for your message that wonderful day
Over the years may others hear your call
As they too walk through the portals of time
That exist within your hallowed walls.

Comments: I arrived a day early for my conference being held at Oxford University. I had not arranged for a place to stay but knew I wanted housing near the train station so I could travel to Oxford the next day. After checking out several possibilities, I ended up in the modern city of Crawley. I spent much of Saturday afternoon walking and exploring. Just down from my hotel was the four-hundred-year-old church, St. John's. Upon checking the train schedules for the next day, I decided I had time to attend church on Sunday morning. I often find such experiences not only spiritually rewarding but also culturally interesting. I was not disappointed. 
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