Sunday, July 28, 2013

Bound for Cornell, Bound for Glory

... because of his persistence.

Luke 11:8

Sunday in Ithaca with my brother Nicholas, mainly on the ever-evolving campus of Cornell University.

I marveled at developments great and small. For starters, a new wing to the Johnson Museum of Art, itself a gem of modern architecture by I.M. Pei on the northwest corner of the Arts Quad. There is an additional building for the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning, Milstein Hall; sadly, it is itself a dud of contemporary architecture -- think of a barcode and glass -- that now links two older buildings in a juxtaposition as inept as a peanut butter and garlic sandwich,  or a mashup of Richard Wagner and Devo. And the College of Human Ecology keeps expanding its empire along Forest Home Road with a new building, called simply the Human Ecology Building, a complement its sister, the gargantuan Martha Van Rensselaer Hall. Among other developments, I could not help but notice the fencing and netting surrounding the East Avenue Bridge that crosses the Fall Creek Gorge, as well as the signs posted with the telephone number for a crisis hotline. The university is serious about preventing suicides ... and incurring any liability for them.

So many changes, but so many familiar things, too. My alma mater is alive, and so I could feel my soul ascending as I showed my brother around his new school.

We joined the Cornell Catholic Community for the 10:30 a.m. Eucharistic celebration at Sage Chapel, one of the most beautiful buildings on campus. My brother, who was a lector at Our Lady of Grace in West Babylon, introduced himself to the associate minister, a layperson, and offered his gifts of liturgical ministry. And I exchanged pleasantries with the lay minister, who knows the Capuchins, especially one of the newly professed brothers from Saint Augustine province, as well as the local fraternity at Saint Fidelis Friary in Interlaken.

For lunch, Nicholas and I walked to North Campus and the Robert Purcell Community Center, where the only dining hall was open. I worked in the dishroom there 18 years ago. It was my first job ever. I think my wage was something like $4.75 an hour. We were not alone in the dining area; among us were students attending summer sessions and varsity athletes beginning an orientation of their own. We walked back to the Arts Quad and to the Johnson Museum, where we drifted for the next couple of hours, admiring the new wing and marveling at the technology that has enabled Cornell both to display many more artifacts from its permanent collection and put a lot more information about its collection at your disposal. I was duly impressed.

Resting now at Nicholas' apartment. After prayer and dinner here, we will head back to campus, this time to Anabel Taylor Hall, location for Cornell United Religious Work, the campus ministries for over 26 faith communities. On Sunday evenings at The Café at Anabel Taylor Hall, the local radio station WVBR broadcasts its long-running folk music program, Bound for Glory. Nicholas and I will check it out tonight!

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