A Green Spot in the City: No. 36 of 40 Forts

A Green Spot in the City: No. 36 of 40 Forts

A Green Spot in the City: No. 36 of 40 Forts

As a member of our church’s board of trustees, I am on the Facilities Committee. That means that our team walks around the building and does our best to prioritize the maintenance of the facility while keeping in balance with our budget. It is a challenging job, especially in a historical church in the heart of a downtown area. This year we are celebrating our 148th anniversary. So that gives you some sense of how old some of the plaster is.

Well for Easter, our main concern was the exterior. This presents us with quite a few challenges in addition to the aging foundation. We have homeless people who sleep on our steps. Dogs use our grass for their relief since it is the only green spot for several blocks. And busy foot traffic creates a muddy patch at the southeast corner of 8th & H. So we just wanted it to look good for Easter. Time for a little spring cleaning.

The clean up day corresponded with my last week of creating the forts and Henry’s trip to London and Oxford. Maybe the anxiety was looming large in our home because this is also when we hit rock bottom with the sleep. Of course, I know that now since Easter also brought with it the miracle of sleep. But at that point, I was barely hanging on. I was exhausted and not enjoying my very brief moment of life as a single mom.

For the pre-Easter Committee meeting, someone emailed me to ask me about the food and mentioned that I was responsible for coordinating the food. I knew I was responsible for gathering tools. But food was a little more daunting. At this point, I could pretty much only figure out our meals one meal at a time. I had no clue as to how I could feed 30 people. Even if it was really obvious. You just can’t think straight when you are sleep deprived. That is why it is one of the very first documented torture tactics.

I met with Amy for dinner one night and she told me she was impressed with the coordination. I sighed and told her that I was afraid that I was the weak link in the clean up day activities. Then I told her about the food coordination. “Why don’t you contact California Tortilla? What’s the worst that can happen?” Great idea. I did and they said yes. So easy.

Long story short, all of the volunteers gathered in a single-file line and walked over to California Tortilla for lunch. We were given a few options to choose from, everyone ordered and then we returned to the church to eat. I felt a little bit like an elementary school teacher on a field trip. And I almost panicked and gave them my cat-sitting money because we had more people than we expected. But once things started progressing, it was so easy and so perfect. And in the end, I believe that everyone was happy. Many of our volunteers had never visited Cal Tort before, so it was great to introduce them to a new favorite place to grab a bite to eat after church.  (And if you go to the Chinatown Cal Tort, be sure to look for the Calvary Baptist letter of appreciation, signed by Pastor Amy and Trustee Caroline.)

To me, this experience felt a lot like Lucy’s birth. Okay, NOTHING like that. Except there was one moment when we received a phone call that someone was ready to sign the lease on our place in Chapel Hill. It was minutes after I found out the doctors waited too late to give me an epidural.

It was like God reaching out and saying, I know that you are having a tough time with this whole sleep thing. But I’ll lob you a freebie.

I should have never asked God to help me out with Lucy’s sleep so that I could makes these forts. I think that made everything worse. I thought that I would need for her sleep to improve to create the forts. God proved that I could do them despite how much I slept. I would like to point out that I came up with this idea the day after my only full night’s sleep in a few weeks. But maybe the lack of sleep contributed to the story line and made them more entertaining.

Regardless, as soon as I finished the forts, and as soon as I stopped praying for more sleep, she started sleeping more. Granted her bottom two teeth finally broke through around this same time. So they were probably the culprit behind all of the crying.

"She gathered food..."

"She gathered food..."

This fort is the smallest one that I made. I folded a sheet of paper in half, creating my first double layer. It is so small that I was able to nest it into a business card, on which the text is written.

...as they prepared a green spot in the city.

"...as they prepared a green spot in the city."

In the image you can see a woman working on a garden with a city landscape in the background. The exterior images is a close up of a basket of fish, referencing the fishes and the loaves. A story of feeding multiple people out of very little. Granted the experience behind this fort was not a miracle, but a nice blessing in itself.

view of the fish in the baskets

view of the fish in the baskets

When I told Amy my theory on the food and sleep, she said that I have the weirdest personal theology. The other day I imagined that upon meeting God, He is likely to say, “I never said any of that, Caroline. But you are very creative. I like that.” And laugh.

This paper sculpture, roughly the size of a coffee cup, is one of forty forts I created during Lent 2010 as a creative exercise and spiritual exploration.

Read about all of the Forty Forts.

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