‘Who is this person?,’ I thought when I got a photo-text from high above the streets of Chicago the other day. ‘And will someone kindly return my wife to me?’
You see, my beloved spouse spent the past week at a conference in the Windy City (or more precisely, Romeoville)…and apparently, the participants didn’t keep their noses to the grindstone the entire time they were together.
Wednesday afternoon was designated ‘free time,’ which Gerri (somewhat uncharacteristically) turned into the chance for a big-city adventure. She and a newfound buddy took a commuter train downtown—in itself a challenging escapade for those used to four-wheel modes of transportation—and then headed off to Willis Tower to experience the Skydeck Ledge.
Now you have to understand: This is a woman who keeps the car’s door handle in a death-grip anytime we travel on a mountain road. She tends to get upset if I (or any member of the family) wanders within six feet of the railing on a bluff or at canyon’s edge.
And yet, here’s this photo.
It sure looks like my wife, seated in a flimsy glass box…perched 103 stories above Wacker Drive. But I notice that she doesn’t seem to be scared at all. In fact, she’s got a beautiful smile on her face—like she’s actually enjoying the experience.
Today, I heard more details about that little adventure when the two of us attended a day of reflection with other members of our parish. The day was focused on the Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120-134) —in essence, the songs Hebrew pilgrims sang when they traveled to Jerusalem. Our pastor opened the day by inviting us to reflect on memorable decision-points in our lives, situations that called for us (like pilgrims) to step out of our comfort zones, to take a risk.
In that context, Gerri described her urban escapade to the folks at the table, noting that it did in fact have a spiritual dimension—showing her, among other things, how we draw strength and energy from our companions. ‘I never would have gone downtown on my own,’ she said. ‘But Mary Jo made it easy. We knew we could rely on each other, bounce ideas off each other. We didn’t have to wander into that unfamiliar territory alone.’
So it came to be that Gerri was able to step out onto the Skydeck Ledge last Wednesday, and gain a whole new perspective on that part of the world.
And she’s given me something fruitful to ponder, as well:
How often do I allow fear or reluctance to derail the good things the Lord would have me do?
And: How open am I to nurturing new relationships…or to exploring the idea that perhaps God puts certain people in our lives precisely so that we will have the companions needed to ease the most difficult parts of the journey?
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy One.