Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Put Your Hands Together

by Robin Allan Jones

If you take both of your hands, hold them before you, palms-down, then bring the tips together at, oh, I wanna say, 60 or 70 degrees, you will mimic the A-frame roof of Saint Paul’s Episcopal. Not surprisingly, you will also look like you are praying.

Any piece of architecture is the work of many hands: those of the dreamer who first conceives of a need for a particular structure, finger-painting ideas in mid-air, the master architect who, with sketching pen and keyboard, turns that vague dream into a viable creation, the people who, with fervent hand gestures following even more fervent voices raise the funds to set in motion the breaking of the ground, the builders, with shovels, jackhammers, and paintbrushes, the people who put their hands together beneath the completed roof in the work for which it was intended, and finally, the nearly invisible maintenance man who pushes the broom and squeegees the windows that are part of the building’s essential housekeeping functions.

Architecture is a form of prayer, and everyone involved in the life of a building is an expression of that prayer, fingers, if you will, of God.

With that in mind, somehow, the word “renovation” seems cold, dead, distant Latinesque; what we are doing right now at St. Paul’s is nothing less than adding our hands and our voices to the prayer that is St. Paul’s.

Robin Jones, a liturgical minister at St. Paul’s, is not related to St. Paul’s renovation architect Susan Jones—but he wishes he were.

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