Saturday, April 16, 2011

Fire at Sacred Heart

Sacred Heart Catholic Church on the Spokane Reservation sits behind boarded windows and police tape after a fire destroyed the interior of the building. According to local news reports, the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

News of the fire caught me by surprise.

The other day, my co-worker arrived at the classroom and said, "I heard a church burned in Wellpinit." By that time, the event was already more than a day old, so we quickly found confirmation on the Internet. Of course, images of the fire saddened me. Only once did I ever attend services in that building, but my father was buried in the cemetery directly behind the church, and so I feel myself drawn to that place - connected somehow on a genetic level.

Police tape blocks the entrance to the church.

Blackened fire extinguishers sit nearby.

Some of the religious statues survived the blaze.

Even as a non-Catholic, I have to admit that images of the Sacred Heart of Jesus compel me. I feel a certain fascination and reverence, but I'm not sure I can even begin to explain all the reasons. On one level, it seems archaic, or even strange, to depict a human heart wrapped in light and flames. But on another level, this image holds a remnant or a shadow of something quite profound from the early history of Europe, a time when people were still believed in magical beings and the power of religious objects.

The Stations of the Cross were also preserved.

This image was perhaps the most haunting. The heat from the fire caused the body of Christ to blister, almost as if to accentuate his suffering.

My days vanish like smoke;
my bones burn like glowing embers...
But you LORD sit enthroned forever.
(Psalm 102:3 and 12).

KREM 2 news report regarding the the fire.

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