All the easily developed land has been developed. And what isn’t easy – like building the parking garage in downtown Juneau that required excavation and removal of a colossal size rock – is sometimes taken on too, if the rock is taking up prime real estate.
Not all rocks require excavation. I found a good many turned into billboards, like these that line Skagway’s port and harbor. But nowhere did I find evidence of new buildings beside old ones within historic districts. Rather than tearing down and building new, like the good folks of West “U” – that posh neighborhood inside Houston’s Loop, where many three story mini-mansions keep company with cottage bungalows — the people of Juneau and Skagway tend to recycle, to just make do with their land. Between mountains and sea, there’s no other choice but to make do.
Who cares if a building, that today houses one of Juneau’s many souvenir shops, still boasts that carved-in-stone name of “Juneau Laundry?” Or that a sporting goods store now resides in the old home of Alaska Electric Light and Power Company?
Or that Rainbow Foods operates in excess space from a church whose name is not as prominently displayed?
Whether “Rainbow Foods” Church has a little grocery side-business or whether it supplements its pass-the-plate collections with rental income, either causes wonder on which part of their building is busiest – the one devoted to groceries or the one devoted to worship of God.
Downsizing church property is one thing, but within a block of “Rainbow” Church, two churches have closed their doors. Though nearby signs indicated both spaces were available, I couldn’t imagine any kind of business willing to resurrect this once sacred space. Until I recalled my favorite eating place — located again — inside the Houston Loop; of all places, Mark’s American Restaurant runs its business in the lofty cathedral arched building of a former church on Westheimer Street.
I can no longer recall the name or the denomination of the former church that once filled this prime piece of real estate. Though I’m a little bothered by my memory lapse, I’m more bothered by the thought of dying churches, especially when evidence of resurrection – by a subsequent succeeding business – proves it wasn’t the location but something else that needed tending.
When Mark’s was rated by USA Today as one of the top ten places to eat in the United States, it took weeks to secure a dinner reservation. Last time my husband and I dined there, which happened on just an ordinary week night – five years after USA Today’s blessing — every seat was full. Had this ever been true for the church that once inhabited “Mark’s” space?
All these words on rocks and churches and resurrected buildings and “making do” has me recalling a few words of Jesus in the Gospels — “On this rock, I will build my church” — spoken in response to Peter’s confession to Jesus, “You are the Christ”; Jesus spoke to Peter and to all the disciples and whoever else was in hearing range of Peter’s Great Confession.
Thinking about that ragtag band of Peter and the other disciples — who never understood Jesus’ teachings, who were busy jostling for heavenly rewards (like the right hand seat of Jesus), who as a group, betrayed and scattered and even denied knowing Jesus the night he was arrested – alongside the words “On this rock, I will build my church”, only goes to show Jesus was making do too.
I suppose he still does.