Today it is projected that the high will be 66 degrees! I feel more alive already. I enjoy winter at its onset… the chilly air is exciting, and the snow is beautiful. It took a long time for us to get some snow here in Chicago, but it turned bitterly cold at the end of March-beginning of April, and that was absolutely no fun.
Either way, I am delighted to have the weather warming up. I will be wearing dresses and skirts and finally enjoying the outdoors. One of International House’s best spaces is its courtyard, and I am super excited to be able to sit out there once more. It’s a great place to write and just sit and hang out.
I’m preaching on Sunday! I went to the Robust Coffee shop on 63rd and Woodlawn (an excellent place to sit and think) in order to begin writing. I had all my papers prepared and printed, the lectionary here, Peter’s sermon from Sunday there, and Dan’s sermon from Good Friday there—all printed on paper recycled from readings that I’d done a few weeks ago.
Half way through re-reading Dan’s Good Friday Sermon, the woman sitting beside me began talking. She wasn’t talking to me, exactly, but then she was, actually because she sort of waved at me.
She wanted to know what kind of birds were flying around on the empty lot across the street. She was from St. Louis and wasn’t aware that Sea Gulls congregate around the great lakes as well—and, well, that started a conversation. Quite a lot of conversation.
At first I was terribly perturbed by this interruption. This woman was obviously insane. She started singing to me. In fact, it was because I told her that I studied Ministry—she needed to tell me the song that the Angels had sung to her when she was younger.
But I had to kind of chill out. Because, quite frankly, there was a paper sitting, glaring up at me, words boldly printed: “Receive the Holy Spirit.” So the part of me that was screaming “GET YOUR WORK DONE!” had to shut up for a little while.
She told me that she was in Chicago visiting her niece, who was singly raising a young son, and now had ALS. This elderly woman came from St. Louis by train twice a month in order to help her niece and her grand-nephew, because her niece was determined to live alone. We talked a little bit about teaching. We talked about how she traveled the country, doing secretarial work as the Civil Rights movement opened new doors for her as a young Black woman. We talked a lot about God. She told me that she was Apostolic, and I told her that I was Episcopalian. This was a woman who had no doubts about her faith—she was fully present to God and what she saw as God’s call.
She wondered, though, if there was room to be religious and not so, subdued—if there was room to be religious and enjoy life to its fullest. She asked me if I wanted to be a pastor, and I told her plainly: I don’t know. I don’t know where my gifts will be best used—I don’t know if I am doing this because this is just ‘what my family does’ or if I really do have a call to be in a church.
On her way out of the coffee shop, this woman looked at me and said. “You know, You’ll hear God call you when it’s time. You just listen for the smallest of voices. But you know what, I’ll tell you something: You’re Episcopalian right down to the core, I can tell that. And you Episcopalians, God needs to call down a mighty storm on you to get you to listen.”
I chuckled to myself as she left, because that was probably the most amazing Doubting Thomas encounter I could have ever had. I didn’t get much done, but it did help me to listen better for what the text needed to say on April 7, 2013.