A Pilgrim’s Psalm
Morning twilight was peeking through the lace-framed windows. As I lay there in silence I was reminded of my Father’s Word, “For He gives to His beloved even in His sleep.” (1) Blessed sleep…I had my portion of it last night. Thanks be to God. And oh, yes, thanks be to St. Jakob, patron saint of pilgrims.
Only yesterday I was a scared American pilgrim, caught up in a German mystery in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Running through dark tunnels from a man in a black coat with a deep menacing German voice. The target of an art crime ring. All because of “Bauerngarten”, the exquisite garden painting of Wilhelm Schacht, now in my possession, purchased from his sister at the museum. I never imagined such an adventure during my college Christmas break vacation.
Today…well, I have much to be thankful for, safe within the walls of the St. Jakob’s church compound here in Rothenburg. This medieval Gothic cathedral was completed in 1322 and named for the apostle James. The church has been a stopping point on a pilgrimage route to Santiago, Spain where many Christians journeyed to the burial site of the apostle. It has always been considered a safe haven for those seeking protection. Margaret, “Bauerngarten”, and I arrived last night with the aid of a local shopkeeper, Hans Schmidt.
“Guten Morgen!” The housekeeper entered our room smiling with a tray of hot tea and biscuits.
I motioned with my finger to my mouth and a soft “shhh”, pointing to my still-sound-asleep roommate, Margaret. She nodded in understanding as she handed me the tray. My limited German vocabulary at least allowed me to reply with “Danke”.
After savoring the warmth of the hot tea, biscuits and jam, I grabbed my Bible, journal and pen and headed to the inner courtyard leading to the church. The sun was just beginning its rise. All was quiet and the only sounds in the courtyard were my footsteps echoing against the cobblestone pathway.
As the massive carved wooden door into the sanctuary closed behind me, serenity poured into my soul. The church was empty yet so full.God was present. “Shhh” was whispered into the sacred air of His presence.
I knelt in reverence as I approached the High Altar, thanking God for His protection. His response came as I opened His Word , “For in the day of trouble. He will conceal me in His tabernacle.” (2)
Then opening my journal, I penned these words:
“My God is a sanctuary
A place of rest and stillness
Though my world be turbulent
He speaks and calms the encircling winds
And places me in the eye of the storm
Where that spot of stillness banishes my fears
Calms my heart
And I rest in Him, my sanctuary.
My God conceals me in His tabernacle
Where light transcends the darkness
Streaming in through mosaic panes
Casting rainbows across my footsteps
As He colors my path with beauty
And I see with different eyes
And I exult in Him, my tabernacle.”
The church bells tolled as I made a sign of the cross and offered this prayer. “I am a pilgrim, Lord. Whether I am in Germany or in America, nowhere on this earth is home. It is a noisy and dangerous world and Your voice is often drowned in its clamor. Quiet me, O Lord. Help me to hear You. Speak and guide me in my travels. Amen.”
Then I heard Him whisper ”Shhh.”
“Yes, Lord, this pilgrim is listening.”
(1) Psalm 127:2 NAS
(2) Psalm 27:5 NAS
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