As promised in a previous post, below are a few pictures of our journey across the state line of Oklahoma into the Lone Star state. Rebecca and I have persistently pointed out decorative stars on our travels, yelling “STAR!” into the unsuspecting ear of one another–it’s been a fun and, at times, heart-stopping game. Obviously, when we stumbled across this Texas-sized star, we just had to take a picture with it.
We’ve since settled into our Extended Stay Hotel, where we will be living for the next few months. Rebecca is spending many hours each night studying for her upcoming board exam, which she will take in Houston this coming week. While most of our time has been oriented around her work and study needs, we have had a few opportunities to explore Austin. There are many great sites and sounds to comment on, but I did want to highlight a particular building that we visited, very briefly, which is just down the road from our hotel. It is the Echelon I building. I thought it was under construction, but I learned that it was under repair. The Echelon I was the site of the anti-IRS suicide plane crash in February of this year. Below is a birds-eye-view photo of the building after the plane crashed into it, killing 2 (himself and an IRS manager) and injuring 13 others. Following that photo is one I took as the building stands now–an ominous, skeletal reminder hovering over the nearby highway.
We became aware of this building because we visited a church, Grace Covenant, which uses the Echelon complex to house some of its ministries and Sunday morning classes. According to a few members we spoke to, Grace responded to the disaster by taking care of the emergency workers and demolition crew, offering shelter and food in the wake of the aftermath. I spent some time yesterday at this site, remembering the victims and prayerfully pondering the circumstances of life that lead to such destructive, life-taking disasters. These tragedies all too easily slip away into the forgotten recesses of our collective memory. I was humbled and shaken–a mixture of sadness, curiosity, strangeness, and anger I’ve felt twice before: witnessing Ground Zero and walking the site of the Oklahoma city bombing.
Thankfully, God’s Spirit is not thwarted by such tragedy, even as God grieves our losses with us. God promises us healing and hope in the midst of such darkness and pain. God’s promises were glimpsed in the hands and hearts opened to those deeply affected and displaced by the grievous events. May our hearts and hands be open to tragedy, wherever it emerges, so as to participate with God in the redemption of a groaning creation (Romans 8).