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by: Mary Beth Ellis
St. Martin of Tours Church, which has stood for over a century in Cheviot, OH, boasts a spectacular dome above its altar. Its colorful rendering of Christ the King requires repair, however, which means the church’s filigree finishes, soaring marble, and delicate stained glass windows are covered with a tangle of scaffolding.
It is a space under construction, and it began, fittingly enough, just when Lent did.
The sharp angles of the scaffolds echo the crosses we receive on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday. The crossbeams, wood, and platforms seem to block out all that is gentle and sunny. If your soul feels this way during Lent, or even most of the time, you’re not alone.
Construction is rarely pretty, but often necessary. There are scattered staples, wood shavings, drywall dust. We trip over dropped beams and we lose our way amongst the reroutes we are forced to take. But the work we undertake during Lent through penance and repentance is deceptive in its bare beams and exposed wires.
For, when the platforms are lowered and the piping is pulled down and away, what the renovation leaves behind is a new vision from the ground up.
Construction leads to beauty, to clarity, to new life through the Resurrection. When we give ourselves over to reconstruction of ourselves in God’s image, the sensations of feeling upside down and inside out aren’t unusual. What matters is how we endure the scaffolds and the platforms. What matters is not a church full of framework, but an empty tomb in Jerusalem.
Proud aunt and godmother Mary Beth Ellis is a freelance writer and college instructor.