Friday, June 20, 2008

Summer in the Greatest City in the World

It's a little presumptuous, but that's how Chicago is frequently referred to by the DJ on one of my local radio stations. Some days I can almost believe it. My summer work requires me to awake at wee early hours to drive downtown before heading out to farmer's markets. Since today is the longest day of the year, it also happens to be one of the earliest sunrises. Having grown up on the west coast I've seen the sun set over the ocean a million times but I've never seen the sun rise over a body of water. Living in Chicago I've never been up early enough to watch it rise over Lake Michigan, and my job wakes me up too early most days for it (about the time he sun actually rises I'm down inside a sub-zero underground freezer). Yet this morning I got to behold the awesome sight. As I drove the expressway towards downtown, early morning light made the northern half of the skyline silhouette while the southern half of the skyline was still in enough dark sky to be illuminated only by the light of office windows. Very cool.

The summer I interned at Lutheran General Hospital I often volunteered for overnight shifts. I remember one particularly long night where six different deaths required some ministry from me. After all the sadness and pain of the evening I went up to the 12th floor caferteria to get some coffee to push through my last 30 minutes on call. I looked out the panoramic window worn down by a night of death but grace gifted me with a vision of hope, the sunrise over the city. Even though many living light's had been extinguished through the night, the sun still rose the next day and each and everyday. Long after I and everyone I love has passed on the sun will still rise each morning. The universe will unfold as it should. We are but a small piece of a larger symphony. The sun rises every morning--that does not change. Mercy is new every morning. Life goes on.

Its a lot like the promise of changing seasons. Long winter has now become welcome summer. Though I spent most of my afternoon stuck in traffic, I got to listen to exciting baseball as the Cubs and Sox played an exciting game ending with a walk off home run. A near perfect 72 degrees meant driving through the city with my windows down. Driving up Lakeshore drive I admired the city's fantastic architecture to my left, and summer fun in Lincoln park to my right... and Lake Michicagan beyond that. When the humidity is not oppressive, summer in Chicago is a lot of fun. There are an abundance of festivals and concerts--many free. For our birthday Nicole and I took advantage of the great ethnic diversity of our city to find some new cuisine to try (Ethiopian food has some charms, but we weren't entirely won over). Still, our city affords us lots of opportunities for adventure. Heck, there's even abundant wildlife! Just today they've found an alligator in the Chicago river. I've heard multiple versions of a North Park legend about a python in the north branch, but this is new. After our recent cougar incident, nothing surprises me.

I'm finding that this "in-between time" of being finished with seminary but not yet placed in ministry is just fine for right now. It's a great time to be in Chicago.

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