Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Installing a Large Wooden Cross

Yesterday we placed a large wooden cross in the Gethsemane Prayer Garden! In all for 2012, we developed four additional areas this year. The addition of the cross is certainly the most significant.

We started in the spring by clearing a major thicket of buckthorns, wild grapes, and other plant debris. Most of the plant material was dragged to the far edge of Faith Chapel's 79-acre property, and some was buried under 40 yards of sand. We planted that with cosmos seeds which sporadically bloomed for four months during the hot and dry summer.

This fall, we developed a sitting area for a group of three or four, a planting of concord grape vines based on John 15:1-11, and yesterday placed an eleven foot wooden cross in a third area.

While I am the developer and caretaker of this prayer garden, I could not do it without the help and encouragement of others. In addition to my wife that added her prayers and applause, yesterday there were four of us that placed the cross in the hole.

Jim Boyd is a tremendously skilled operator of backhoes; he knew just how to pick up that cross which which weighs 300 pounds and get it in the hole. Earlier in the day, he carefully picked up a 400-500 pound rock using straps hung from the bucket. Praise God for the skill that He placed in Jim.

Sam Lupo was the man behind the construction of the cross. Taking two pieces of 6"x6" pressure treated wood, he meticulously cut out, chiseled and sanded the 15' piece and the 6.5' cross-arm. He then glued the two boards with Gorilla glue, bolted and counter-sunk two bolts that hold the boards in place, and then applied epoxy to the bolt ends. Finally he used a draw knife to take the sharp edges off the wood, giving it a more "rugged cross" look.

Bill Hastings is the exuberant worker. Highly skilled in many areas of construction, Bill energetically placed a 12"x4' Sonotube casing into the 50" hole that I had dug and surrounded it with runner crush stone. After the cross was inserted into the Sonotube, Bill mixed four 80-pound bags of Quikrete concrete mix, placed it next to the wooden post, and then capped it off at ground level with a little pitch which will drain water away from the wood.

We used a Sonotube form rather than just pouring concrete in the hole to help reduce the possibility of frost heaving. The hole had a very irregular shape due to the many limestone rocks that are so prevalent on our church property. Although the hole is well below the frost line, our concern was that the frozen water would create an uplift in our clay soil if we just used concrete. Maybe that is over design, but we felt that it was better than a tilted cross.

Our Lord gets all the glory for how well this worked out.

It is our hope and prayer that many will come to the cross during more pleasant weather, to receive whatever touch the Holy Spirit sends. Remember, Jesus Christ is the lover of your soul.

End Note: The overall theme for this series of articles is flowers and plants, showing how they point to love. Sometimes I write 'how to' do something, other times the emphasis is a status update, or the article will be about how a plant or flower touched my heart. All of these writings are based on plants from the Gethsemane Prayer Garden in Syracuse, NY. Please consider some of the other blog articles: Index of Articles About the Gethsemane Prayer Garden.