Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Hope Bell

An inscription on The Hope Bell. A gift from Great Britain after the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, on September 11, 2001.

visiting ground zero...

My friend Josh Wittmier came to visit last week and since he had never been to New York City, we thought it appropriate to take a jaunt into the city to see some of the sites. We made a stop by the old and new Yankee Stadiums, as well as a stop at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The most impressive and probably most impactful stop during our tour of the city came when we took a subway down to the site of the World Trade Center. You can't get too close to the site itself except for walking around the block since there is a lot of construction going on there right now. Josh and I made our way to St. Paul's Chapel, a small Episcopal church that stands right across the street from the site where the two towers fell. This small church was not only filled with amazing historical significance, but as a structure it has witnessed its share of disaster. This building survived a great fire in New York in the late 1700's, and was the place where George Washington came to pray after his first inauguration in 1789. On September 11th, 2001, this small church witnessed first hand the terrible site of that fateful day. What is trully amazing is that for its proximity to the building collapse it sustained little or no damage in fact when many tall modern buildings around it sustained terrible damage to windows and structure, this small church did not have a single broken pane of glass in the entire building! Below I have included a photograph of what remained of a tree that stood on the corner of the church property closest to the World Trade Center. You cannot see a lot from the photograph, however, imbedded in the flesh of the stump are countless small objects. There are dozens of coins, staples, some piping, and a host of other small objects that fell from great heights and were driven into the tree by the force of the collapsing buildings! It is truly difficult to fathom the force involved and even harder to fathom the reality of how many people were involved.

I have also included another photograph of an inscription on the Hope Bell, which stands in the front yard cemetary of the church. It was a gift to the United States by Great Britain after September 11, 2001. In light of the pictures in the church, the stump with all of its scars, and the sheer weight of the place in which we stood this inscription spoke volumes that could not be verbalized and for much of our visit neither Josh nor I talked all that much.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

a baseball disgrace

Recently, a couple of friends of mine and I took a trip down to Baltimore Maryland where we went to see the Baltimore Orioles baseball team take on the visiting New York Yankees. Upon arriving in Baltimore we found the downtown area around the stadium to be quite pleasant. It was actually very pretty. After eating lunch at a nice little restaurant called the Wharf Rat. We made our way to the game. What we found turned our previous hour long experience of Baltimore on its head! It was a shocking and grotesque atrocity!
Outside the stadium there were more vendors selling New York Yankees memorabilia than Orioles memorabilia! On top of that, by observing the masses moving into the stadium you could easily wager that nearly two thirds of the fans were wearing Yankees jerseys, hats, or other clothing! We were even more disheartened to find that when anything happened to go the way of the Yankees during the game, the stadium would erupt with cheers and excitement! Every single inning played host to a chant repeated over and over: "Lets go Yankees!" "Lets go Yankees!" This experience flew in the face of everything baseball is all about! Where was the home town pride? Where were the faithful fans decked out in their orange and black coming to cheer their team on, and heckle the highest paid team in baseball!? They didn't even sing the traditional seventh inning stretch song Take me out the Ball Game. This was probably because of the line: root root root for the home team, if they don't win its a shame. There was acutally a section of the team store dedicated to New York Yankee player Alex Rodriguez! AHHHH!!!! What a stupid idea!
All this is to say, that I was deeply saddened by the lack of enthusiasm for the home team, and I wondered how hard it must have been for the Oriole players to try to mount a worthwhile competition when the crowd would erupt with positive noise every time the opposing team got a hit or turned a double play. I just hope that somehow, some way Orioles fans band together to fight this injustice, and that everyone takes pride in the team they support, never giving in to the gilded and shallow pinstripes whose talent is simply bought and paid for every year and never won through hard work and a team mentality!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

a prayer

Dear Lord, I sometimes wonder what I am supposed to do, and maybe it is silly to think that way, maybe not. Either way I sometimes find myself overwhelmed with doubt and frustrated by mistakes I have made. I ask for wisdom to know what I should do in all situations, and the courage to do it. I ask for the humility that allows me to laugh at myself so that I don't take life too seriously. Above all of this I ask that you would speak, for it is in those moments where I sense your presence that I find the purest and most substantial joy. May my life, in all of its complexity and simplicity, bring you praise, honor, and glory. May I be ever aware of the moves you are making in the world around me, that I might seek out opportunities to share in the work you are doing. You are grace itself, and eternal mercy. This prayer I leave in your mysterious and ever present care. Amen.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Philadelphia - a cultural experience

Recently, a friend of mine (Aaron Twicthell) and I made a trip down to Philadelphia to immerse ourselves in the culture of this historic and storied city. We began our trip by visiting one of the most important sites for citizens of the United States; Independence Hall. We were able to see the liberty bell housed nearby, as well as partake in a guided tour of this famous and historic building. We saw the chair upon which George Washington sat when the continental congress convened to sign the United States Constitution. We heard the Centennial Bell ring atop the spire of the hall marking off the hours and we inhaled the musty air of a room where name after name of founding father strode, sat, debated, and forged a nation. Benjamen Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, and many others. It was surreal and amazing!
The next leg of our Philadelphia journey took us to the area near South St. to two well known eateries across the street from one another. Ask any local and they will tell you, the only place to get real Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches is at either Geno's or Pat's. Legend has it that neither owner as set foot on the other's property. Aaron and I availed ourselves of the culinary masters and each sampled the cheese steaks. It was a delectable experience. Both were amazing! However, if we were forced to choose we had to lean ever so slightly toward Geno's. There was something about the meat that was just a little richer, just a little more tasty.
The final stop on our runaround tour of the "City of Brotherly Love" was the local major league baseball park. It is called Citizen's Bank Park and it is home to the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team. This was an unforgettable experience. The game was delayed from the beginning by rain, thunder, and lightning; however, after waiting for two hours the game began and the sun broke through the clouds! On the mound for the Phillies was former Seattle Mariner Jamie Moyer. The highlight of the game had to be our seats which were in center field just above the grass and right next to a TV camera man! Although in close second to the seats was Jamie Moyer's bunt for a triple in the third inning which was made possible by two Pittsburgh Pirate errors. Aaron and I went to a Mets game at Shea Stadium in New York and during the game there were at least 10 fights in the crowd that had to be broken up by security. I thought that was pretty bad; however, the fans in Philly proved to me that they could one up Mets fans. I kid you not there was not a single inning where the entire left field section chanted at, yelled at, and cajoled the left fielder for the Pirates. I was blown away at how crazy they were! They didn't cut this poor guy any slack, and to make matters worse he dropped a pop fly in the 6th inning and they let him have it twice as bad for the rest of the game!
All in all this was an awesome outing to the home of Will Smith and Rocky Balboa! If you are ever in Philly I recommend taking in the sites, the sounds, the tastes, and avoiding any confrontations with the athletic fans!