The city of Falls Church was founded in 1699 and I've often wondered how it got its name, where are the falls, and where is this church? Today I answered these questions. I returned a rental car this morning so I found myself stranded and on foot in the city of Falls Church. It was a beautiful spring day, an extraordinarily beautiful spring day. One of those days where the temperature is perfect and even the color of the day is perfect. I decided to walk around Falls Church for a while and enjoy the color of the day. Walking integrates you with your surroundings, enabling you to notice details especially those in plain view. I have driven the same streets and lanes dozens of times but I've never experienced them.
Walking in a city means sidewalks, parking lots, alleys, vehicular traffic, pedestrian crosswalks, and it requires awareness. Walking requires noticing. The first thing I noticed was the Falls Church Episcopal, THE Falls Church. The answers to my questions stood in front of me. I've made a mental note to visit his church every time I drive by it. Today I took action; I visited the church.
The sign read:
The Falls Church Episcopal
The Historic Church
1769 - 2019
Celebrating 250 years
I was compelled to visit. The grounds were peaceful, shady, quiet, historical, and shared by a cemetery dating back to the late 18th century. As I strolled the church grounds I absorbed the peace, the quiet, the architecture, the ancient trees, and the history of past lives. I came upon an outbuilding behind the church. I was drawn to discover this building. We might refer to my experience as a product of my curiosity but I know now that there was something or someone else at work here. The door was open and I could see a table inside with flickering candles on it. Empty chairs lined all four walls facing inward toward the table. As I stuck my head in to look around my eyes were drawn hard left to see a woman sitting alone and quiet. That’s when I met Kelly, the Associate Rector. She was sitting alone in the chapel in silence and reflection. I felt like I was an interloper and I apologized for interrupting her.
She stood and introduced herself and explained that she had just finished the memorial service for people who had lost someone recently. During the service she had experienced all of the grief, sorrow, the tears, the anguish, and she was trying to absorb it. We talked about the church, the history, her background, and my background. She told me the city of Falls Church was named for this church. The falls church was the church on the road to the falls on the Potomac River so over time the area became knows as Falls Church. She offered to show me the original part of the church which is still in use. It was completed in 1769 and according to the church brochure "is the oldest remaining church building north of Quantico in Virginia.” It was holy Saturday, the day before Easter, and they were preparing to church for the Easter celebration services. (He is risen! He is risen, indeed!)
She introduced me to John, the Rector. He stopped his preparations to chat with me for a few minutes. He shared his theory of states as filters. He believes states act as filters and as one moves towards the Midwest from the East Coast each state filters a bit of the nuance of the language (and food) leaving a bland Midwest. I thanked him for his time and I thanked Kelly for the tour. They handed me two brochures about the history of the church and the history of Falls Church.
I wanted to continue to savor the color of the day so I decided to walk the 3 1/2 miles home. Like Kelly, I needed to reflect on all that I had absorbed, all that I had learned, and all of the blessings of my joyful ambulation in Falls Church today. Thanks be to God.