And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

A few years ago, on Sunday morning of the Metamora Old Time Music Festival, Patchwork (Rick and Holly Garrett), Brian Keith Wallen, Ted Yoder, and I gathered on the chancel of the United Methodist Church in Metamora, Indiana, for Sunday morning worship. We played music the entire hour, but make no mistake about it; we had worship that morning.

The sanctuary seemed to agree. It was one of those musical experiences that gave goosebumps. We played in the round, each taking a turn, singing songs of faith. As we knew songs, we would join in and contribute, or we would remain tacet, letting another’s song roll like cleansing water. It was a sacred time.

I have been blessed to play in that sanctuary a few times since then. On each occasion, I’ve had the same experience. It’s as if singing by decades of worshippers is in the walls. The room seems to join in. Tears are shed. Laughter rings out. Songs and stories light our way, encouraging us to roll on just a little while longer. The music proclaims good news.

The musicians have varied from one time to the next, but Rick and Holly have always been there. It would be hard to imagine being in that space without them. The love, laughter, and tears that we have shared certainly have contributed to making the sanctuary of Metamora United Methodist Church a sacred space for me.

This past weekend, I was once again blessed to sit on the chancel of Metamora UMC with Rick and Holly. Our friend Larry Wayt joined us. While dwelling in one sacred space, the time seemed right to connect to another, the Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill, Ky., by singing the Shaker dance song, Simple Gifts.

As the last notes faded, Rick observed, “The valley of love and delight. That’s Metamora.” I have to agree.

The valley of love and delight. A sacred space. A place of community. A place where burdens, if not laid down, can at least be confronted and named. A place where true simplicity might be gained.

A place that may not need a preacher to proclaim good news to the poor and recovery of sight to the blind. A place where a song and a friend is all that is needed to know that the place on which you stand is holy ground.

The place just right. Perhaps I should have removed my shoes.