Sunday, June 9, 2013

'In The Garden'

Driving through the dense fog and drizzle, I pass through miles of country back roads in Dighton and Rehoboth, Massachusetts.

But even under overcast skies, the vegetation is gorgeous. The trees, heavy laden with new leaves, bend across the road creating a tunnel into the Garden of Eden; and bright spots of fuchsia rhododendrons catch the eye around every bend.

The mist gives this isolated place an ethereal quality, and my slow speed navigating unfamiliar roads gives me the opportunity to pay close attention to my surroundings.

I begin to notice how many pre-Revolutionary homes sit close to the street with their barns and outhouses nestled close by. 

And I imagine colonists on horseback galloping by...                         

Arriving for the service at Reboboth Congregational Church, I climb the old wooden steps, and I am greeted by Pilgrims.

There is a Pilgrim with a musket over his shoulder and a Pilgrim couple on the seashore, depicted in two of the beautiful stained glass windows. Along another wall of windows, Jesus beckons. 

According to their history, the congregation has been entwined with that of the town of Rehoboth since 1643. The Reverend Samuel Newman, along with others, established the settlement and erected the first meeting house on the east bank of the Ten Mile River, and called the town “Rehoboth.”

A book enshrined in a glass case at the front of the church is open to this King James passage: “So he called its name Rehoboth, because he said, ‘For now the Lord has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.’” (Genesis 26:22)

Wanting to worship regularly, the Reverend David Turner, and ten founding members of the new congregation, completed a “new” meeting house on November 29, 1721.

The third meeting house, their present sanctuary, was completed in 1839 and was known as “The Church in the Barnyard.”

The stained glass windows were added in 1906.

A plaque on the wall commemorates the life of one of their members, a deacon of the church who was born in 1744 and lived for 98 years.

Sitting on the small hard bench, I pray silently, while I await the start of the service.

I smile when the lovely young minister takes the pulpit. What would our Pilgrim forefathers have thought of that?

Stepping out into the bright sunshine, I retrace my path on the winding roads; and this time I see the contemporary homes sprawled on acreage along the way.

As a New Englander, I am rooted to this land; and sometimes I feel I have one foot in the past and the other in the present.

I crank up the engine of my shiny blue sports car and glide along these now familiar roads with the words of the old hymn "In The Garden" still ringing in my ears:  
“I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses; and the voice I hear, falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses. And he walks with me, and he talks with me, and he tells me I am his own, and the joy we share, as we tarry there, none other has ever known.”


  1. Linda, thank you so much for these beautiful words about Rehoboth, about the church and about God's presence in the midst of the tension between the past, presence and future. May I share this with my congregation? Peace, Sarah

  2. It would be my pleasure. Blessings, Linda