With the first sound of limbs breaking, I raced to our front porch. It didn’t take long before tears began streaming down my cheeks. Wonderful trees that lined the north side of my church were being shredded, torn and ripped from their home by heavy machinery. Like the song goes, “paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” That was the purpose of the butchery. Our church is being forced to add new parking by city codes.
St. John’s Lutheran Church is the most beautiful church in the city. A bold statement, I know. Right up the street is Grace Cathedral, most everyone’s likely choice. Very nice, but St. John’s is still the best with its understated elegance.
I am prejudiced, no doubt. My father was the minister there from 1954 until his death in 1978. Our home is right across the alley from St. John’s. Every inch of the old building has been explored. A tower room was used as my clubhouse for years. Just sitting in the church on Sunday lifts my spirits. It’s good that sitting there does lift my spirits, because every day I am saddened by the need for this parking and the damage it has done. The church will never look quite as good.
Our church is in the final stages of a major addition. Typically with any project of this size, raising the money in these volatile times has been hard. Not all the members are in love with the idea. Both of us were actively involved in that tough process. The addition will be fantastic and over time prove its worth to our church’s great stability and future growth. Many members have worked passionately to make sure of this and will continue to do so.
It’s just that we have been living with construction for a long time now. The athletic department at KU has been completely been reshaped by a massive construction project that has raced along since March. I have a wonderful new studio. Laura has a great new office in a beautiful new setting. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, since changes to Allen Fieldhouse will surely thrill all the fans. The end is near, but the moving, pounding, dirt, dust and general inconvenience wears on all.
It’s the same at our church. Tragically, those trees had to be sacrificed. Still, it has taken almost all summer, and the parking lot still isn’t done. All the construction vehicles battered the alley that separates us from the church. When it rains, the alley runs as brown as the Mississippi River from the dirt.
That mess pales next to the “great green machine.” The old air conditioning unit from the roof had to be placed in the alley and hooked up to cool the church. We haven’t been able to open the windows to the house since. When that sucker cranks up, there is no peace. It still startles me when it roars to life if we are outside the house.
We both realize all the inconvenience is part of such projects, and we will do our part by living with this. We know the end is near. Dedication is scheduled at the church for November and come October most of the KU construction will be completed. Cleanup will come and peace will be restored.
That is unless I discover any more trees are to be removed for additional parking in front of the church. I have chains in the garage and fully intend to use them to bind myself to those trees. That is not an idle threat.