poetry and prose about place

sacred spaces

with 7 comments

Abandoned churches are a particularly poignant reminder of how ephemeral our human spaces can be.  In most cases, churches are abandoned for reasons of practicality – the maintenance costs are too high and refurbishing costs exceed starting over. 

I think about the people who originally planned and built the church.  They needed a place to meet and worship.  They probably had a hard time pulling together the resources.  There would have been a first Sunday service in the new church, perhaps a celebration afterwards with a meal and speeches.

It was probably a heart-wrenching decision to abandon the church.  So many baptisms, weddings and funerals.  So many personal experiences of being near to God.  So many forgotten moments of amusing bored children, nodding-off during sermons, singing off-key, and greeting friends and neighbours.

Some older churches are maintained because of their heritage value, and used occasionally for special services…

Some churches are sold and repurposed, into office space, or even homes…

Some churches are abandoned entirely, left as reminders of the landscape of the past…

Although it is vacant, this old church has someone to care for it, evidenced by the mowed lawn.




between ruby glass

and hard wood floor

a slide of light and three


extinguished candles

smoke lifts from smoulder

each mote a particle


of spectral light, mosaic

shard, image

reassembled in three



shepherd, hawthorn



©  Jane Tims 2011

Written by jane tims

September 14, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Posted in sacred spaces

Tagged with , ,

7 Responses

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  1. The picture of the church door is compelling… I have often thought it would be pleasant to make my home in an abandoned church… Around here a lot of churches are being used as theaters for plays and concerts – helping financially to stay viable – the acoustics are heavenly…


    Barbara Rodgers

    September 16, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    • Hi Barbara. I like the door to the church also. It is a well-cared-for place although it is unpainted. I’ve heard of an old church in Prince Edward Island that was taken on a barge to its present location and turned into a dentist’s office in combination with a tea-room! Jane


      jane tims

      September 16, 2011 at 8:31 pm

  2. Excellent poem Jane…when I read it it reminded me of the “Trinity”. Was that on purpose?

    Love the old church. Where is it?




    September 14, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    • Hi. Yes, the ‘threes’ are deliberate. Hawthorne is symbolic of hope. There is a tradition that Christ’s ‘crown of thorns’ was made from hawthorne. The old church is in the Jemseg area. Jane


      jane tims

      September 14, 2011 at 10:29 pm

  3. Hi Jane, Much to ponder here…I love these old buildings. We have old churches in our area as well.

    What does the title of your poem mean?


    Ellen Grace Olinger

    September 14, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    • Hi. Crataegus is the scientific name for hawthorn. Our American hawthorn (Crataegus chrysocarpa Ashe) is a small bush with long thorns and red berries. The hawthorn is symbolic of hope and repentance. In the stained glass window in the poem, the Good Shepherd is rescuing the lamb from entanglement in the thornbush. I think I may add a bit of botanical information to the entry. Thanks for asking the question. Jane


      jane tims

      September 14, 2011 at 10:43 pm

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