Harrell Beck

The Wisdom of Harrell Beck

Tearing Up the Present


I went out at seven-o-clock in the morning for a walk, and walked by Mr. Lincoln’s home. A woman from the National Parks Service was there at a quarter past seven and said, “Would you like to come in?” That’s the only department of the government I know that’s on the ball! So, I looked around Mr. Lincoln’s house and when I walked outside noticed that all the sidewalks were torn up. The National Parks Service had an absolutely marvelous sign, all around where you had to jump across a pit or a gravel pile. It said, “Sorry for the inconvenience. We are tearing up the present so you may enjoy the past.” How about that? And I wanted to write across the bottom of one of them: ”So that you can have a future.” Do you hear me? Somebody in the National Parks Service is really biblical.

Harrell F. Beck March 8, 1985

Editor’s note: In 1984, Harrell was invited to Springfield, Illinois by one of his former students, Woody White, to be the speaker at his installation as Bishop. Harrell spoke of being delighted with the historic nature of White, an African-American, being consecrated Bishop in a predominately white area in the shadow of Abraham Lincoln’s home.