Thoughts from the I 90

Dear readers, be assured I have not abandoned you. I have made plans and then my plans have remade me. This past month has entailed a trip to the United (as of now) Kingdom, a trip to Copenhagen followed up by a week’s long conference in Chicago. In the midst of all of this, classes have started, and I have endured meetings that have not always been endearing.

Increasingly I have come to know life as the undoing of my plans. I am working at being at peace with chaos, even while I pine for a pause in life. But I have also come to know that peace is more often imbibed in bits: a poem here, a vista there, the vision of a child wrapping herself around her mother’s leg that takes me outside of myself and to a place I covet for all. When I least expect it, repose sneaks up on me. For instance, last Wednesday a generous young woman named Sarah agreed to ferry me and a Malaysian friend from Hyde Park in Chicago to O’Hare Airport. The organizer of the conference had wisely arranged for transport for all well in advance of normal departure times. Winds in 40 knot range were expected along side of the precipitation befitting such gales. As was expected, the trip was about double the time. This plodding commute gave me occasion to ponder the last week since I was not in charge of driving, not needing to be anxious about when to get on or off ramps and like. I was able to sit back and revisit the conference; meeting new and old friends from Indonesia, Nigeria, Germany, Brazil etc. I was at a meeting of the Lutheran World Federation, where we asked the question: How do Lutherans the world wide read the bible?

As you can expect, no easy answer emerged. Some had suggestions while others queried the wisdom of travelling down this path at all. After all, some argued, the empire upon which the sun never set was obsessed with uniformity, and we all know how that ended. But then again, that empire, like so many others, has not really ended. It lives on even if only in wistful wishes for an empire of no setting sun. But the sun insists on setting, even in the shadow of busy airports.

Here and here, in the midst of traffic crawls, and renegotiated flight departures pause is thrust upon us. This is really the tale of life: while we may struggle with the rudder, the wind is beyond our purview. We bob along, and hope for the best; at least the wise do so. In those pauses, welcomed or not, comes our very own opportunity to be welcoming: will we breathe when the opportunity arises? Will we take leave of our importance? Will we embrace those moments that arrest our constant, if not consistent, rushing about? Will we will Sabbath? Will we ache to become a deep breath in harmony with all of creation? Will we be content with the moment given us, to be grateful and so generous? Life is so astounding in so many ways; here an unexpected gift of time; there an opportunity to practice peace; and in the midst of it all – God, ever offering fresh starts, even on a Illinois Inter-state.

10 thoughts on “Thoughts from the I 90

  1. dianerivers says:

    First of all, what a great attitude. I confess I am not often patient when pause is thrust upon me. You are surely a much healthier human in many ways for your acceptance of that which you can’t control. Second, I wish I had known you were in Chicago! I live near O’Hare airport and would have been happy to ferry you from Hyde Park or any other obscure place in the Chicago area just for the opportunity to have what would have been a delightful conversation. Next time, then?

  2. Marie Taylor says:

    well said and a wonderful reminder to relax into the present.

  3. About the way Lutherans read the Bible – reading your blog brings me to wonder whether the question was asked, not about how liberal or conservative, but how personally we read this mirror to our hearts.
    Will we take leave of our importance? Great question….thanks for that. We will, I guess, all, and then we will know it was never important.

    • agjorgenson says:

      Well, in a way yes… the heart question was behind most of the conversations, even when not explicitly so. I feel hopeful in many ways even while I see some major differences in approaches. The conference has a very good feel.

  4. shoreacres says:

    I smiled at this: “I have made plans and then my plans have remade me.” The good news is that your plans didn’t unmake you — and there is one of the biggest differences between those who thrive and those who merely survive.

    As for the Empire and the sun: it occurs to me that may not be such a bad metaphor for the question at hand. It was the same sun that shined on the nations of the Empire, and yet that sun illuminated quite different worlds. The same Bible informs Christian communities around the world, but it illuminates quite different ways of life.

    One sentence bothers me a bit: ” Will we take leave of our importance?” I think I take your meaning, which has to do more with our sense of self-importance. And yet, in the US, today, there are forces abroad in the land determined to undermine the importance of the individual, in favor of the collective. I am convinced that one reason for the denigration of Christian faith has nothing to do with the old arguments about the silliness of the Trinity or the absurdity of arguments about transubstantiation. The offense of Christianity today is its bold proclamation that every individual is of infinite worth. The bureaucrats and the social engineers don’t like that.

    • agjorgenson says:

      Ha! Yes, they did not unmake me! And yes, that sun did illumine different corners of the world. I think the piece could be nicely rewritten with this in mind. I agree with your assessment of losing the individual. i’m not sure self-importance would do, but perhaps “elevated self-importance.” I would add to your list of bureaucrats and social engineers the role of certain marketers.

  5. jannatwrites says:

    I can relate to the unraveling of plans, but I’m not so good at recognizing the brief moments of peace in the midst of chaos. I thought I was busy, but seeing your schedule makes mine look like it’s filled with leisure.

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