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Thursday, October 22, 2020
Ten years ago today, the 1881 Chapel went up in flames. It was a Friday; the weather was warm and hot. The story has been told a thousand times: flames were noticed in mid-afternoon; the first responders did amazing work as they made sure that the fire did not leap to Meade Hall and cause even more damage. By 5:00 p.m., it was clear that the destruction to the Chapel was significant.
As I write this commentary, I remember the moment with such clarity. I remember the news media coming to the campus and the nine interviews I gave over three hours; I remember gathering with the community, in a state of shock and sadness in Scott Lounge; I remember the Rt. Rev. Ted Gulick '73, D.D. '94 (H) making his way to the campus to sit and pray with senior staff as we processed next steps; and I remember the sense of loss as a sacred space was taken by fire.
The Chapel Garden remains one of my favorite places on the campus. The landscape architect, Michael Vergason, created a remarkable and holy space. The holy is still very much present; one can feel the prayers that have been uttered over the years; and it is, truly, a "thin space." On this day, I invite us all to pause, remember, and be grateful that God's grace is visible today.
The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D. Dean and President