Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Changing of the Guard

The cross came down this morning. It's a right of passage, I guess, when the long-proven veteran steps aside to make way for the new who come to try their mettle, be refined by the fires that will come.

Until I married, I lived almost twenty years in the shadow of my home church's steeple, its cross rising above the trees as a beacon for all to come to the cross. Playing badminton in the backyard, swimming in the above-ground pool each summer, fishing for crawfish in the cow pasture's "pond," finding a stunned bat beneath a fallen tree's bark--I lived life with a church for my neighbor. From my bedroom window each night, I could always look out and see its black triangle against the misty orange glow of security lights.

Although I didn't understand the significance of the image back then, no matter what I did at my home, I was always under the watchful eye of the cross. And like most young people, I took for granted that I could always turn north and see a white, cross-tipped spire piercing through the sky toward heaven.

God. Christ. The cross. It would always be there if and when I needed it.I didn't know today was the day she was coming down. My parents didn't even know until today.

But God knew.

And He knew I'd want to see her off, this friend of my childhood.

This morning, I drove to my parent's home for free babysitting while I hot glued my fingers together to make hair bows for my daughter. I've had the yards of ribbon for over a month, but just yesterday evening felt compelled that today was the day. Now I know why.

When I drove past the church, there sat the crane to hoist the new cross into place. Minutes later, I doubled back and parked the van so my children could see.

She lay on her side--paint-chipped, mildewed, covered in lichen, leaking droves of red wasps who had made her their summer home.

I walked around the already-loaded Gooseneck trailer. What do you do with a retired cross? It seems almost disrespectful, somehow wrong to just send her to the scrapyard.

Those who didn't drive past this church building today will likely never know of the changing of the guard that took place between sunup to sundown. The new steeple is the same size, same shape as the old one. Without a critical eye that would detect her missing scars and back lit by the same blue sky, the new steeple looks pretty much the same for us earthbound viewers.
As the afternoon wore on, I didn't stay to see the crane that lowered the old lift the new into place. It almost seems fitting, this cross changing with a new generation growing up.

Tomorrow, when I again drive to my parents' and look up, I'll see a new soldier in God's army, one to weather more of life's storms and one that will once again welcome another generation who seeks the cross.


  1. I love this story! I love how this cross brought you comfort and how you relate it to the changing of the guard. So fitting.

  2. What a nice story - it could have been a sad experience but your perspective is lovely.

  3. Lori--It's sad in a way, but more just a reminder of that day when nothing will wear out anymore.

  4. Somehow, the appearance of the old cross seems fitting. We can "pretty-up" our crosses, but it was a horrific device.

    There are many layers underneath your story here, Jennifer. Thank you for sharing so vividly.