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All Shall Be Well

  • Posted on Apr 29, 2020

On Sunday afternoon, as Emmanuelite Mike Getty worked in his law office across the street, he noticed—out of the corner of his eye—something strange as he walked outside. He looked up and saw that a section of the stone church wall on Washington Street had fallen. Mike grew up in Cumberland—born and raised. Over his decades of life, he has walked up and down Washington Street past the wall thousands of times. It is part of not only his physical landscape but his spiritual landscape. The wall is part of his life. For those of you that grew up in Cumberland, you may feel the same way. In a time where the greater world around us seems unsure, now a part of our community seems unstable as well. As apostle Paul would write in one of his letters to the early church; “What then are we to say about these things?” (Romans 8:31)

First, the practical and immediate. For some time, the Building and Grounds Committee and the Vestry of Emmanuel have been working to understand the best way to deal with our historic wall. Although the actual date the wall was constructed is not clear in our records, the wall certainly existed by the early 1900s when the Parish Hall was built. Over some 100 years, the wall has held through thick and thin. A century of freezes, heat, and torrential rain, the wall has served us well. Now is the time to restore the wall. The Vestry and Building and Grounds Committee are actively working with Belt Construction to stabilize the wall immediately and then provide a comprehensive plan to redesign the church’s drainage system on the hill, rebuild the wall using the historic stones and provide better access to the front of Emmanuel’s hill. This will happen in the next weeks. There will be more information on our way forward—financially and construction-wise—in the days ahead.

Second, the spiritual aspect of the wall. It is part of human nature to know that change needs to happen and yet be unable to act towards the change. Then the universe forces our hand. On a global level, a pandemic emerges. On an individual level, a health or relational crisis happens. On a community level, a wall begins to collapse. That is the human story found in Scripture and all great literature. But here is the great blessing. While we find ourselves as humans in tragic circumstances, the times of suffering and testing are often when our true humanity shines. One thing I know as your Rector—we will find that greater light of humanity as we work on this wall together as a community.

Apostle Paul answers his own question in his Letter to the Romans with this:

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

We are not alone. We will go forward together. We will find a new way in restoring the old. Just as we repaired the chapel plaster and found a new Chapel of the Resurrection this past year, I can only imagine what the foundational wall will teach us about our life together.

As Dame Julian of Norwich said centuries ago, “All shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”

Eastertide blessings,

Rev Martha