Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Spaces Places

Here's a short continuation of Products and Packaging in the guise of another containers, borders, wrappings and enclosures essay; I'm still emphasizing church but won't take time to focus on anything specific.

Spaces, places: boundaries of spaces get named as particular places. The Great Church or Cathedral shelters Square and Marketplace, a prime locale for news, information and announcements and a trustworthy general gathering space. Quadrangles surrounding churches became the very first financial districts, original Central Business Districts—you know all about the CBD! Around the Grote Kerk's perimeter people still buy, sell, trade and barter hand-crafted goods as well as manufactured ones and garden-grown produce, with these days' offerings including local stuff plus imported goods and bads.

In casual speech even those of us who are theologically articulate refer to a church building as "the church." One can see church steeples from a distant and far land: "One if by land; two if by sea!" ...although there are very few of those steeples here in the Southwest. Nevertheless, church buildings of all dimensions in towns and cities of every size remain landmarks and tourist destinations, sometimes targets for inopportune activities, such as negative graffiti and arson.

Frequently a church building's interior becomes the space describing life's most significant events for both traditionally churched and not so church-wise: blessings and baptisms; quinciƱeras, nuptials; funerals, memorials and farewells. In some older European churches, people are buried underneath the church! University chancellors used to teach in the chancel of the church or cathedral, acquiring that privileged location in response to their academic position, receiving their title from the place called "chancel."

Let's bring time into this blog, too, because it serves a similar bounding function! In his his 1990 Brazilian Rhythm of the Saints, Paul Simon sang "Born at the Right Time":

Down among the reeds and rushes A baby boy was found
His eyes as clear as centuries His silky hair was brown
Never been lonely Never been lied to
Never had to scuffle in fear Nothing denied to
Born at the instant The church bells chime
And the whole world whispering Born at the right time . . .

But among the reeds and rushes A baby girl was found
Her eyes as clear as centuries Her silky hair was brown
Never been lonely Never been lied to
Never had to scuffle in fear Nothing denied to
Born at the instant The church bells chime
And the whole world whispering Born at the right time . . .

Announcing linear time, church bells ring out hours, half hours and quarter hours; at least as often, particularly in more rural areas in this country and abroad, church bells announce births, deaths and impending disasters. I heard about a town in rural Pennsylvania where every family had its own melodic bell pattern! Very cool, in my opinion.

We chronicle wind events, cardiac events, this current nation-wide ultra-hot weather event, terrorist events (too close for comfort?), Christ Event, all of these being measurable in longitude, latitude and calendar time. Human creatures need those parameters! We celebrate the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Yahweh of the Exodus, God of the Prophets, God and Father of Jesus Christ as One who supremely self-reveals in measured history, who became incarnate and still is incarnate in creaturely history.

Nearly everyone knows Robert Frost's "Good fences make good neighbors"; a little while ago the gates of this condo complex disappeared for needed repairs and since then several bicycles have been stolen and there have been a few incidents of less than welcome intruders, so it's possible reliable gates keep mischief at bay. That's all for this topic at this particular time; may the spacious place known as home welcome you at whatever time you need it to be there for you!

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