Since last Tuesday night after the EACC exterior walls were demolished, I have purposely not visited or driven by the site, in the same way I would avoid looking at a rotting corpse lying alongside the road. Today, however, our Wednesday mid-day services of prayer and healing resumed. The Cleveland Clinic has generously offered the church the use of their lovely chapel—very modern and quite stark, but full of light and visual interest—for the services. The clinic also offered grief and wholeness counseling to the attendees at the service. There was no way for me to get to the service without passing by the EACC site, and I knew it would be difficult.
On the way in I tried not to look, but after the service I intentionally stopped to observe the ongoing demolition and removal of debris. The demolition experts have found several artifacts (including some historical records that may or may not be able to be preserved because of water damage). Sitting on top of a lidded dumpster was one of my organ music books (I recognized it immediately—a volume of Bach organ music, a reprint of the Bach Gesellschaft edition by Dover). It was brittle and totally charred around the edges, beyond anything that could be considered useful. It disintegrated to the touch. Another member asked if I didn’t want it. No, I have no use for it. The book had a useful life once, but that life is now extinguished with the flames that burned it.
That was enough for me, and, frankly, I had to walk away to compose myself. It was time to return to work. There may be remnants of our past church life there, but I question the amount of energy that some may be expending to retrieve them. (It is, of course, not for me to say what is meaningful to others.) I guess it is part of the grief process, but for me, grasping at what is gone won’t help me move into the future.
I will routinely be walking that path to these services in the coming months. In a relatively short time the EACC site will be fully excavated and will again be green space, as it was in the 1860s when the church first built a structure on the place, when the area was at the far reaches of the city of Cleveland. Maybe the healing of the site will help with the healing of our hearts.