Skip to main content

Life in Greencastle: That Greatest Architect

God's peace to all of you on this beautiful Saturday afternoon.  I hope you are enjoying the warm sunshine.  Perhaps you are even still enjoying one last sunset at the beach.

We stayed fairly close to home this Spring Break, taking two short trips, including one to Turkey Run State Park and the other to Columbus, Indiana.  Anna and I had been longing to go to Columbus for quite some time.  Back in the day, we became friends with Emily and Manish Desai in our small apartment complex in Pasadena, both of whom had recently graduated with degrees in architecture from Cal Poly.  Manish would go on to earn his license in architecture and has designed a number of really beautiful spaces, including private residences but also a church out in the desert for a Native American tribe.  Anna and I have always appreciated Manish and Emily's aesthetic, which is why we knew to take note when they started telling us about Columbus, Indaina a number of years ago.  They didn't know much about our home state, but they knew about this place.  It is world famous in architecture circles, especially for those like Emily and Manish who had a penchant for mid-century modern design, that fashion that has come back in vogue in recent years thanks.  They told us, too, that there was one house in particular they would love to see someday, the Irwin J. Miller house and gardens with its clean-cut lines of marble and steel and slate, surrounded by a sprawling lawn and carefully cultivated garden and green spaces.

On Friday afternoon just after lunch, Anna and I were able to see this home.  We, along with ten others, boarded a shuttle from the Columbus Visitors Center and rode the five or so minutes to the servant's entrance of this stately home.  The Miller home, you see, is now a living museum, gifted to the Indianapolis Museum of Art by Mr. Miller and his wife, Xenia, upon their death.  For almost six decades, the Miller's raised their five children here and hosted who knows how many business dinners or social gatherings for the executives of Cummins Engine Inc.  Now that all of their kids had grown up and had since moved away from their original home, Mr. and Mrs. Miller were ready to give it back over to the public, a chance for the rest of us to appreciate what they indoubtedly saw as a beautiful and lovely place.  

It is beautiful and a work of art.  There's no doubt about that to me.  Sure, the place is beginning to show it's age.  They were having to do some work on the roof of the garage as mold had crept in over the years.  You could see rust gathering at the corners of a few of the beams.  Nothing last forever, as they say.  But, by and large, it was awe-inspiring.  Each of the marble slabs placed up on the walls was "book-ended," meaning they cut the giant slabs down the middle like a loaf of bread, spread them open and placed the two slices right next to one another so you could see the pattern mirrored next to one another.  The reclined seating area in the middle of the house was both comfortable looking and luxurious.  And even though the day was cloudy, the gray in the skies and the green in the garden and lawn was a perfect contrast to the bright, luminated home.  It all seemed so well put together, and - as our tour guide told us - for good reason.  The home and garden was the culmination of three different men all putting forth some of their best work in the prime of their careers:  the architect, interior designer and landscape architect all coming together to coordinate and accentuate and heighten each other's vision.  At the end of our tour, our guide asked if there were any more questions, and one lady in the back spoke what everyone was probably wishing, "When can we move in?"

Yes, the Miller house was inspiring and amazing to behold.

But, here's the thing.  It cannot begin to hold a stick to what we saw on Tuesday afternoon, not long after we crossed the swinging suspension bridge in Turkey Run State Park.  We had veered off to the north and east on Trail #3, and not more than a hundred yards down the trail we came to Wedge Rock, a giant formation of sandstone that had broken apart into three huge chunks who knows how long ago.  Like the other kids, our two children raced up and around the huge boulders, through a narrow crevice and on up to the backside.  They climbed up one of the boulders, ran down, and then went up to check out the other side.  As it so happened, I went up with them on the second ascent, and took a picture looking down at the huge rock that lay on the ground, that gigantic wedge.  I took a picture and didn't think much of it at the time.

Image may contain: one or more people, outdoor, nature and water

Later, though, I looked at it again, the same one you see just above.  It is breathtakingly beautiful and amazing beyond telling.  If what those three artists did for the Irwin family was incredible, this is sublime.  This is proof of what we hear said so often in the Psalms:  how God's handiwork is beyond compare, how we can see the proof of God's majesty in the heavens (19:1) and how the very mountains and seas and rock formations are calls to worship that are without compare (94:1-5).  This rock had sea green hues rolling through it and a texture carved over millenia by deposits of sandstone from the mouth of the old Michigan River that collected and compressed year after year after year.  Looking at the picture again, it reminds me of Psalm 8.  Who are we, O God, that you are mindful of us?  You who can shape angels and work architectural wonders into your creation, how is it that you still have regard for us?  And, yet, this is precisely who God is ... and how God is.  We too are wonderfully and fearfully fashioned in our mother's wombs, and the Hebrew Scriptures tell us that God only found true delight after he had formed us in His own image on that sixth day.  Now, that is something to pause before in wonder for a moment or two.

We will gather together tomorrow to hear again the story of Jacob from the Book of Genesis, and to hear the good news that God longs to pass on to us.  We will celebrate communion as a church family as well, and a few of us will take communion to our sister, Maxine Patterson, if she can't be with us.  If you'd like to come early to church, please do.  I believe Kay Weaver and her group are continuing their journey through the last six days of Jesus' life leading up to his crucifixion.  

And if you would like to join us on Wednesday for our journey through the Bible, please do.  We will be exploring the first half of The Book of Exodus.  In fact, if you would like, here is a wonderful link from a group of artists who are doing wonderful work of their own, a group out of Portland, Oregon called The Bible Project.  Here is a wonderful description of Exodus 1-18 in just over six minutes.


Christ's peace be yours and may you continue in your pursuit of becoming like Christ in your own life,

Wes

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Acts 5:1-11 - Questions for reflection & prayer

This past Sunday we looked at one of the more unsettling stories in the Book of Acts:  the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira.  As shared by Luke, this couple sold a piece of land and then proceeded to bring only a portion of the profit to the apostles - laying it at their feet for the good of the community.  However, what appeared to be their grave mistake (pun intended) was their collusion in claiming to have brought all the proceeds to the apostles when - in fact - they were keeping some back for themselves.  Peter announces first to Ananias the Lord's judgment, followed by a similar verdict being handed down to Sapphira a short time later.

Seen by itself, this is a strange story, but it begins to make more sense when we see it as "part of the whole."  The story of Ananias and Sapphira comes right after we hear once again of the community's unity and generosity, including their willingness to share their own goods and resources to take care of one another (ch. 4).  Th…

Acts 6:1-6 - Questions for reflection & prayer

As the Holy Spirit empowers the Christian community, new life emerges and new members are added.  This is a beautiful thing, and it is extremely important to point out that this is God's doing.  God is initiating diversity within the Christian community.  However, this also creates new tensions and new challenges.

Acts 6:1-6 gives us our first glimpse of a tension that will extend all the way to chapter 15, until the leaders of the early Church come up with a way to address the growing differences within the Christian family.  Some feel that they are being left out and that others are getting preferential treatment.  The Hellenized Christians feel they are getting the short end of the stick.

All of this is extremely relevant to thoughts and feelings occurring in our own day and age.  Across the spectrum, a majority of Americans feel like they face some form of discrimination.  But, it also points to an ongoing challenge we all face from time to time, the challenges that arise when…