Rebecca Frech is the author of Teaching in Your Tiara: A Homeschooling Book for the Rest of Us, co-host of the popular radio show/podcast The Visitation Project, Catholic speaker, and writes the award-winning blog Shoved to Them. She and her husband live just outside Dallas with their seven children and an ever-multiplying family of dust-bunnies. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at @shovedtothem.
Tucked back on a side street just outside of downtown Little Rock, Arkansas, sits St. Edward Catholic Church. Its steeple can’t be seen from the highway that runs just a few blocks to the east, and its stunning architecture is mostly hidden by the buildings around it. It’s not something most people would accidentally stumble across. It’s one of those hidden treasures known only to the locals.
We found it this weekend after staggering from hotel to hotel in search of a room. Weary from a five-day-long road trip that had carried us through eight states, we gratefully collapsed in the only beds we could find, which were in a run-down hotel just blocks from St. Edward.
We woke stiff, sore, and in need of a little grace. What we found was so much more than that.
Pull open the heavy doors, and you’re greeted by the smell of beeswax and age, followed quickly by the lingering aroma of over a hundred years of incense. Step into the nave of the church, and the soaring majesty of the high altar with its hand carved details sweep the eyes up to the life-sized statues standing watch over the golden tabernacle. There is not a bare corner or a naked piece of wall anywhere within the church, every inch declares the awesome magnificence that is Our God.
Then the eye comes to rest on a small wooden box sitting simply on a side altar. It’s not anything visitors would be drawn to when surrounded by splendor, and yet it is loud in its simplicity. A plain wooden box whose corners are worn soft by the touch of thousands of hands, a brass label which announces its contents to be “A Piece of the True Cross of Jesus Christ,” and in a plain frame nearby, a certificate from the Vatican attesting to its authenticity.
Surrounded by the visual feast which sings of the power and might of Our Lord Jesus sits this humble counterpoint, a grace-filled reminder of His humanity and of the humility of His death.
There is magnificence hidden on a quiet side street in Little Rock, and in hundreds of other towns around the world. Beauty and holiness which are too often overlooked in a world which speeds quickly past on its never-ending journey to “somewhere else.”
This weekend, why not go on a local journey of discovery and seek out the wealth of holiness and history which may be hiding just off the beaten path in a forgotten corner near you? Google your local Catholic Churches, make the drive, pull open a heavy door, and take a step back in time to an era which worship meant an overwhelming delight for the senses, and awe-inspiring splendor left no room for doubt about the Glory of God.