Yesterday, on the weekend between the departure of the demolition crew and the arrival of the earth movers who will smooth and shape our hillside, I took a walk across the upturned earth of the demo site.
I don’t know if I was supposed to be there because caution tape still surrounded the site. But there I was, carefully making my way across a moonscape of scarred earth riddled with broken brick and cratered rubble and shards of shattered wood and glass…trace elements of the life that once was there.
It was just a Sunday stroll, but somehow it felt epochal. The twists and turns and ups and downs of renovation and construction for year after year after year have felt like the longest of the longest of ocean voyages. Will we ever reach land? Will this ever end? Will the construction crews ever finish? Will things ever get back to normal?
For me, yesterday was the first hint of “yes.” Exploring the now-open slope, I saw the surrounding monastery grounds and structures from this particular spot for the very first time. The new Guest Houses were just a glance away, visible even from the Sisters parking lot. The east side of Ottilia Hall basked expansively in full sunlight for the first time in a hundred years. Our dear little lake was just down the slope, within the gaze of anyone looking out a back window in Ottilia.
Looking around at the transformation, and seeing that it was almost complete, I felt like a pilgrim catching sight of Plymouth Rock. Or like Noah seeing the leafy sprig. Or like hearing a turtledove begin to sing in its mother tongue of tranquility.
There’s still a bit of work to do – maybe a month and a half or so. There are some sidewalks to pour, some earth to sort and smooth, a parking lot to pave, and a bit of electrical work. But Plymouth Rock is in sight. A sprig is in the bill of the dove. And a tranquil song is heard in the land…
Thanks be to God!
“Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one, and come! For see, the winter is past, the rains are over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of pruning the vines has come, and the song of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines, in bloom, give forth fragrance. Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one, and come!” Song of Songs 2: 10-13