I’m currently in the second year of a two year volunteer program at a high school in Chicago. Around Lent, all of the volunteers are tasked with choosing their own “spiritual adventure”. Around this time last year, I rode Chicago’s entire “L” system in one day for my adventure. I considered it a spiritual adventure for a few reasons.
First, I got off the train at numerous spots throughout the city in order to reflect on the Stations of the Cross at various neighborhood churches. These ranged from the Baha’i Temple in Evanston to St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Pilsen. I listened to a set of reflections provided by the Jesuits as I walked to each church.
Second, I think that there’s a certain beauty in the symphony of people moving through the city. To be silent and reflective as one moves through this cacophonous landscape is oddly calming. Last year, as I moved swiftly throughout the city I had the chance to observe all the little complexities that I might have overlooked had I simply been rushing to work or some other errand. The city, as O. Henry writes, has a “composite vocal message of massed humanity” — and I think the journey helped me get attuned to that voice.
This year I’m going to stick pretty much to the same route as last year. I’ll still use similar reflections to guide me along the way, but I’m curious to see how things change this time around. If last year’s journey taught me anything, it’s that what appears routine on the surface — the morning commute, for instance — can contain so many subtle flourishes that it is altogether unique.
Please follow along!