I went past the field of a sluggard,
past the vineyard of someone who has no sense;
thorns had come up everywhere,
the ground was covered with weeds,
and the stone wall was in ruins.
I applied my heart to what I observed
and learned a lesson from what I saw . . .
Briarcliff High School, my alma mater, has a unique history. Built in 1958 to relieve overcrowding at a neighboring high school, Briarcliff's doors welcomed timid sub-freshmen and, in five years, transformed them into young adults prepared to face the world. Oh, what great memories I have of this beloved place!
Sadly, as the population in this community aged, and with few young families moving in, Briarcliff's numbers began to dwindle. The school board decides to end its existence as a high school in 1987. And, with good reason. The projected number of eighth graders who would enroll the following year is only 40; compare that to the mid-sixties when the average graduating class numbered 500!
The building doesn't go to waste, though. For years, the old Briarcliff is used as an open campus/alternative school. The gym is transformed into a teachers' resource center. And, Briarcliff grads nostalgically visiting the school could expect the courtyards and classrooms to look pretty much as they remembered.
Here's a photo from Google Images which reflects my memory of our senior courtyard.
The following photos, taken by my friend, Jennie, and her husband, Michael, show the state of two courtyards in 2008.
All in all, pretty well maintained, don't you think?
Then, in 2009, the school board moves the alternative school elsewhere. The teachers' center closes. A developer bids to buy Briarcliff and the school's surrounding acreage to build a multi-use/retail/residential complex.
Local residents protest. Loudly! The economy tanks. The deal falls through.
And, Briarcliff High is abandoned . . .
When the class of '73 takes a tour of the school this August, here is what has happened to those courtyards.
All this . . . in five short years . . .
. . . Thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds . . .
Briarcliff is now a brier patch.
And, it is precisely what happens to us when we fail to allow the Master Gardener to prune us with discipline, weed out our temptations, and tend to us in love. For sin grows wild and rampant in this world like an unkempt garden. Satan longs to choke out our hope. Strangle our faith.
Throw us into the brier patch.
But, Jesus promises us fresh growth in our lives when we have faith in Him and His saving grace. Only He can turn our weed and thorn-filled gardens into the Garden of Eden.
Will you let the Master Gardener trim up your life so you can blossom and grow for His sake?
Will you pray with me?
We are so grateful, Father, that You tend to us so lovingly. Without You, we are but overgrown gardens, choked by the weeds of our sins. Thank You for sending Your beloved Son, Jesus, to die for our sins and to forever forgive us our transgressions. Amen.
Sending a shout-out of thanks to Jennie and Michael for generously sharing their photos with me and inspiring today's blog post!