One of the great joys of being between parishes is that I now have time to read, write, and travel. As my husband and I drove through the endless corn and soybean fields of southern Illinois a couple of weeks ago, we stopped at a few curiosities along the way: North America's largest freestanding cross in Effingham, the world's largest ketchup bottle in Collinsville, and a vintage Route 66 service station in Mt. Olive. Fun and kitchy, to be sure, but also reminders that people find identity and meaning in all kinds of unexpected things. They are markers of a people's history that have become cherished across generations, and so, are worthy of study. These three detours provided a thought-provoking contrast to the much grander stops on our itinerary, such as the St. Louis Arch and the Lincoln Presidential Museum. The first, where I became reacquainted with my fear of heights, serves as an awe-inspiring monument to engineering ingenuity and prowess. The second chronicles the life of one of our most revered leaders during an agonizing period in the nation's history. As signs of human achievement, and national crisis, and local pride, all of these markers of our lived experience have the potential to teach us something important about our faith.
|"Fall Plowing" by Grant Wood (1931)|
|"Crucifixion" by Jan Provoost, 1500|