Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Holy Grass & Unholy Sod

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.


Schroeder said...

And if the holy grass had died and was replaced with weeds? Does God look down and say, "A-ha, I see the holy grass has been replaced with sod. I better send a message to one of my servants to sanctify the sod."

What a fascinating post! I never would have picked this up.

Anonymous said...

I really don't understand why they decided to do this. They re-sodded the quad a year ago, and in my opinion all the grass, sacred or profane, looked pretty good for having been soaked in brackish water for three weeks and then baking through months of drought. But what do I know?

Anonymous said...

As a Xavier student I felt that the removal of the grass was careless. That grass was by far the best looking grass on campus. Maybe it is me trying to hold on the tradition of the campus, but to me some things are worth more as a treasured icon than just having new fresh grass that may look better. They are getting rid of more that just grass, they got rid of hope. I know it is just grass, but sometimes simple things in our lives make a difference. What do your students say about the removal of the grass.

Sincerely a former student