Wednesday, February 06, 2008

orange crosses on the Cornell arts quad

When I got home last night, I hoped that phrase (the title above) would produce some results on Google. I was walking to choir rehearsal along the diagonal path that goes from the clock tower to Goldwin-Smith Hall, and saw the crosses resembling roadside markers where someone has died in an accident. (Except they were orange.) They had names written on them; the ones I read appeared to be Hispanic in origin—Sanchez, Morena, etc. They were clearly temporary, as a few were already fallen into the muddy ground. But I found no indication of what they were placed there for. Google, it turns out, didn’t help. So I don’t know their purpose and can’t share it with you.

Is it ever helpful just to be mindful of people? Not issues, but people you’ve never heard of, nor know anything about? I can imagine a half-dozen reasons for those crosses to be there, although I won’t post those particular speculations. If the crosses really were orange, and that aspect wasn’t just the result of my walking past them in the dark and rain, them there is conceivably a connection with orange ribbons, although I don’t see many convincing ideas in Wikipedia’s list. In the absence of such information, what do I do with those crosses and those names (besides internally chastise whoever organized to put them up with no additional information)? I can enter into prayer.

My regular prayer life is spotty, but since middle school I’ve tried to take time during brief flashes when I am made aware of the lives of others to pray for them. Each time I hear a siren going by, I pray for those involved: whose houses or lives may be endangered; who may be confronting a violent situation as police, victim, or perpetrator; who have come to a point I imagine must be confusing, terrifying, or infuriating. I don’t even have a name, just a noise, and I know they need God’s presence. Last night I had a whole collection of names before me, names that I couldn’t fully take in and whose unifying feature I couldn’t identify. Is it helpful for me to pray for them? I have to believe so. I have to believe God is wise enough to intervene magnificently in situations I can’t adequately address; I am of course strengthened in this conviction knowing that the Holy Spirit speaks for me when I can’t speak.

That said, if anyone knows why these crosses were there, please let me know.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is possibly a reference to Hurricane Katrina victims or survivors. Yesterday was Mardi Gras, and New Orleans is the Mardi Gras hotbed on the US.

During the rescue efforts in the aftermath, rescuers would mark each house with an orange cross and notate the number of survivors and victims found therein.

I am not from there myself, but I read that in news articles on the just a possibility.