Do you remember the intersection of Washington and 75th streets, when it was only 16 lanes?
A Citgo station with a huge canopy wedged itself between Washington and the river on the northeast corner and an Amoco station was perched between Washington and the river on the southeast corner. The demolition of these landmarks forced a few commuters to lose their bearings for a while.
How do you handle change? We arrange our lives around reference points in our worlds, things we assume are givens, which will remain stationery for a season – or forever. When the reference point moves, changes or even vanishes, the rhythm of our lives is thrown off. The more important the reference point, the more our psyche is rattled.
Naperville Congregational Church is on the southwest corner of what is now the 36-lane intersection of Washington and 75th Streets. It had its all-aluminum steeple replaced with an all-fiberglass replica in 2007. For three days after the removal of the older unit, fourteen displaced pigeons flew reconnaissance patterns, looking for home.
The removal of this reference point (their home!) definitely shook their world. Changing the architectural profile of this landmark structure altered the “feel” of the intersection to many commuters for a while. We fielded regular inquiries, such as “Hey! Where did the steeple go?” – its absence bothered them so.
Friday, March 11, 2011, the Earth moved under the Asian Pacific waters, now rated as a 9.0 phenomenon. How saddened we all are—some of us even to tears—as we followed the rising death toll posted by Japan as rescue, cleanup and rebuilding efforts try to restore life following the recent earthquake and ensuing tsunami.
When the quake’s tremors ceased, the tectonic plate upon which the island nation of Japan sits had moved up to 12 feet to the east. The Earth’s axis was altered and for a moment, even Earth’s speed of rotation measured an increase. The earth moved that day.
Jesus told a parable about a wise man who built his house upon a rock, but even Earth’s rock can move! Our congregation prays for the people of Japan. For so many of them, important reference points were obliterated, their lives shattered.
We pray for the search and rescue teams, for fire, police and medical responders. We pray for the healing of physical and emotional wounds, and the recovery of the national spirit of this island nation.
We pray for wisdom to fill the leaders of that land as they guide the hearts of their people to find again the path to hope.
The 17th century poet John Donne penned words that often drew comment and reference from T. S. Eliot – “the still turning point.”
The Christian believer finds that in a world where even the Earth will move, Jesus of Nazareth provides a still turning point which remains the same – even when the seas foam and the mountains shake (read also Psalm 46).