In 1987 Pope John Paul II visited Xavier University and from a balcony in the back of the Administration Building he addressed all the presidents of Catholic Colleges in the U.S.
Xavier was justifiably proud of that moment. But over time, the grassy area on which the people sat while being addressed by the Pope grew in cultic status. One day someone decided that the grass in that courtyard was "holy." Every Xavier student since then can retell with a smile about how at least one point in their tenure as a Xavier student that a nun yelled at them to "get off the holy grass!" We could only look at this grass and admire it, as walking on it was not only impolite, but blasphemous. After Katrina this holy grass was in pretty good shape. Maybe God or the recently deceased Pope spent their days making sure the holy grass survived, but I sort of doubt it. But then, as part of a major resodding program, some tractors dug up all the grass on campus, including the holy grass. This is what it looks like today.
So all of this raises some serious theological questions. We know that sacred space in the ancient Near East was recycled. But will the new grass that comes from presumably unholy sod fields absorb the holiness that made the pre-Katrina grass so sacred? Will students be able to walk on this new grass, even walk on it with shoes while listening to i-pods, and if so, when? Certainly this raises more questions than it answers, but I sure wish they had left the holy grass alone. I feel like if any plant survived Katrina, it ought not to be dug up, but instead, be welcomed, appreciated, and admired.