Demolition of a Landmark

I used to walk past the Minneapolis Public Library twice a day. Now it’s a pile of rubble with one remaining shell that will probably be gone in days. They’re tearing down the old building to put in some new fancy one.

I’ve been able to watch the progress as they go. They spent a lot of time inside the building, ripping everything out. I watched one day as a Bobcat shattered every window on the third floor and then ripped out the window frame. The claw on the end of the Bobcat’s arm would stab through the glass, then turn to rip out the frame. The glass would bubble and then pop when pressure was applied, usually sending most of the shards shattering to the ground. But the claw never hesitated. As soon as it broke through the glass it was reaching around to grab the frame, yank it out, letting any remaining glass fall to the ground. The Bobcat was in position for the next window before the sound of broken glass silenced.

A crane with a large concrete ball toppled most of the building. The concrete ball was probably twice the size of a basketball. A chain went through the ball going up to the crane, and another chain fell below the ball, and then curved back to the crane, allowing them to both drop and swing the concrete ball. A slow, simple swing or drop is what brought down most of the building. They’d raise up the ball, then let it fall, slowly at first, building up speed just before it smashed into the concrete. Most of the time nothing would happen. It would echo, the dust would rise, and a few pieces would fall. But every few swings a large chunk would fall, and a piece of the building would cave away. Often they would just drop the ball in a line, and then swing the ball into the weakened structure, letting an entire section of wall fall away. I watched this happen twice, seeing a 10 foot by 10 foot piece of sheet metal fall six stories.

The most amazing to watch was the dome of the Astronomy wing. They raised the concrete ball and let it fall in the center of the dome. The building shook and the ball bounced, sending reverberations up and down the chain. They raised the ball again and dropped it. Raised it again and dropped it. Again and dropped. Again. I never saw the dome give way.

Ash Wednesday

Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent; Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, be self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. And, to make a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now kneel before the Lord, our maker and redeemer.

Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the earth: Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our mortality and penitence, that we may remember that it is only by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

Most holy and merciful Father: We confess to you and to one another, and to the whole communion of saints in heave and on earth, that we have sinned by our own fault in though, word, and deed; by what we have done, and by what we have left undone.

We have not loved you with our whole heart, and mind, and strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not forgiven others, as we have been forgiven.
Have mercy on us, Lord.

We have been deaf to your call to serve, as Christ served us. We have not been true to the mind of Christ. We have grieved your Holy Spirit.
Have mercy on us, Lord.

We confess to you, Lord, all our past unfaithfulness: the pride, hypocrisy, and impatience of our lives,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our self-indulgent appetites and ways, and our exploitation of other people,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our anger at our own frustration, and our envy of those more fortunate than ourselves,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts, and our dishonesty in daily life and work,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our negligence in prayer and worship, and our failure to commend the faith that is in us,
We confess to you, Lord.

Accept our repentance, Lord, for the wrongs we have done: for our blindness to human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty,
Accept our repentance, Lord.

For all false judgments, for uncharitable thoughts toward our neighbors, and for our prejudice and contempt towards those who differ from us,
Accept our repentance, Lord.

For our waste and pollution of your creation, and our lack of concern for those who come after us,
Accept our repentance, Lord.

Restore us, good Lord, and let your anger depart from us;
Favorably hear us, for your mercy is great.

Accomplish in us the work of your salvation,
That we may show forth your glory in the world.

By the cross and passion of your Son our Lord,
Bring us with all your saints to the joy of his resurrection.

Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who desires not the death of sinners, but rather that they may turn from their wickedness and live, has given power and commandment to his ministers to declare and pronounce to his people, being penitent, the absolution and remission of their sins. He pardons and absolves all those who truly repent, and with sincere hearts believe his holy Gospel.

Therefore, we beseech him to grant us true repentance and his Holy Spirit, that those things may please him which we do on this day, and that the rest of our life hereafter may be pure and holy, so that at the last we may come to his eternal joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

(Imposition of Ashes, Rite 2)

Sit Down and Think

Feel a bit neglected, eh? Don’t we all. I’ve had to come to grips with the fact that I’m not in college anymore and I can’t write my thoughts no matter the hour. I got to bed at 10:30 and the alarm goes off at 5:55. There’s just not enough time to sit down and write what I think.

What do I think? House shopping — oh my. George W. Bush on the cover of Newsweek, it’s all about God. Makes me nervous. Invoking God when considering war is dangerous turf. Reminds me of the crusades. And I’m not talking Billy Graham. Saw a snippet today that flippantly reminded us that Saddam didn’t hesitate to use chemical weapons on his own people. I love that fact. We throw it around like such solid evidence. Where did he get those chemical weapons? Us.

Read a good piece on Frederick Buechner last week from the March 2003 issue of CT. Old Buechner’s still kicking. Makes me wish I’ve read more of his books. Makes me wish I could find more of his books in the used section.

Lent is coming up. We considered giving up book buying. Couldn’t do it. We’re giving up eating out instead. I guess Lent is tomorrow. It’s not coming up — it’s here.

Taxes — oh my. Yeah, need to think about doing those.

Job — oh my. Yeah, I need one of those. Though I’m not worried. Those kind of things tend to fall in place when they need to. Of course my definition of need to isn’t always the definition that ends up happening, but we work with what we can.

Yeah, things are still spinning.