Finding God

Finding God
On the pathway to Petra

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Is Our Path Blocked?

Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, S.C.
The challenging path which we lately travel, the church and I, began like so many “ministry by the gut” moments, with a subtle feeling of unease.  Keith and I hosted a New Year’s Eve party less than five months ago, and one of our guests (married to one of Keith’s golfing buddies) was a Durham County commissioner. I heard her talking about the Durham-Orange Light Rail plans, so I eased my way into the conversation and said something to the effect, “Not everyone supports the current path planned for the Light Rail. Running between two hospitals doesn’t seem as smart as, say, running it out to the airport or to RTP. And it’s incredibly expensive.”  

“It has to start somewhere,” she said.  “It will eventually expand to RTP.”  I don’t recall what else she said, only that she made me feel, well, dismissed, even though I had expressed valid concerns.  

“I think it’s supposed to run right in front of the church I serve in Chapel Hill,” I told her.  One member had told me about how ugly the elevated rail would look, blocking the front of the church. This led to further dismissal – I was talking about Chapel Hill, which is Orange County, not Durham County. 

Oh, well, it was a party, so I moved on to other conversations. But my encounter with her made me feel mildly uneasy, and I’ve learned to trust that little twisty gut feeling.

Isn't it odd that the conversation with the county commissioner -- rather than the conversation with the church member who was concerned about the ugly appearance of an elevated train -- was what spurred my unease? I think it's because the conversation with the county commissioner made the possibility of Light Rail real to me for the first time. 

In early January, I did an Internet search of the Durham-Orange Light Rail. It led me to the web page for Triangle Transit (“Our Transit Future”), which has a link to a virtual tour of the proposed project.  As I watched the virtual tour, I got my first gut punch. Looking unattractive and blocking the view of the church was the least of it – construction of the elevated rail called for the “proposed street relocation” of Fern Avenue, the narrow road that provides the ONLY access into Aldersgate’s building without driving miles on twisty, hilly, residential streets that even I haven’t figured out.  I knew what that meant for a small group of senior citizens who sometimes won’t come to church if snow threatens or it’s raining.

Construction was due to begin in three years, and a construction zone would mean the end of the church.  Why was no one talking about this?

Take the virtual tour yourself; you may have to copy and paste the link into your browser.

1 comment:

  1. The video helped me see--for the first time--what the light rail would do to the landscape. Alas. Is this our best thinking?