|CHICAGO RIVER, PRE-PIZZA|
|HI, I'M A TOURIST!|
THE WRIGLEY BUILDING
I must give a special shout-out to Rozann Carter, administrative assistant and I don't know what all else (no title could describe the jack-of-all-trades duties that she, and it seems everyone else at Word on Fire Ministries, though they all have their specialties, performs). She stood by during a four-hour delay to pick me up at O'Hare, drove me downtown, showed me the Michigan Avenue environs highlights, feted me with a house salad (Chicagoans apparently put bacon bits in everything! I love that!) and a thin-crust mushroom and sausage at Lou Malnati's, and then ferried me at some ungodly hour to the seminary.
"Now where are the Great Lakes from here?" I asked at one point and was astounded to learn that Chicago is ON a Great Lake, thereby corroborating that I really need to get out more.
Rozann also deposited me at my door with this insane package of caramel popcorn, white chocolate covered pretzels, gummi bears, granola bars, Orbit gum, Starbucks Via (thank God), a darling package of hand-stamped flower-inked notebooks, and a print of Francisco de Zurburán's "The Bound Lamb" from the Prado. My ascetic bare-bones soul (I had subsisted the whole day on a $1.99 pack of dry whole wheat pita crisps and a bag of almonds) could hardly compute this largesse and it was all I could do to focus on my notes the next day before giving my two talks for the Word on Fire staff's "Day of Recollection." No flies on these folks. This is a crackerjack group who you can tell are working on all cylinders, all the time, and in fact were off the next day to Alabama so Fr. Barron could appear on EWTN.
|THE DOORKNOB IN MY ROOM|
As for the good Father Robert Barron. he was energetic, interested, kind, smart, and funny: no small feat, especially as his popularity is skyrocketing as of late. His new Catholicism is selling like hotcakes, along with the DVD (which, btw, they gave me copy of! I left laden with gifts). He is booked to speak in all kinds of places--Cleveland, NYC, New Zealand--and more offers are pouring in. It's an exciting time for Word on Fire Ministries. I was humbled and honored and touched to be asked to speak and to feel a part, however tangentially, of his evangelization efforts.
More and more, I also see my greatest gift is to have been brought to my knees by alcoholism. Because before you are brought to your knees, you tend to think you are going to be able to manage and control by virtue of intellect backed by will power. You see other people fall and you think, That won't happen to me because I know how to manage and control. But we are not in control. And when I am really lucky, I remember that, and then I can take a walk around the lake at dusk: staggered by beauty, incoherent with thanks, mesmerized by the little crosses on top of the lamps that line the bridges, the squirrels, the crowns of the trees against the sky...
Friends of Word on Fire Liz and Chris Yore hosted us for dinner: fireplace, rare roast beef, tarte tatin and great conversation. "They knew him in the breaking of bread." Thus it has always been; thus it shall always be.
Diane Archibald came to fetch me for the ride to the airport at 7:30 the next morning, but first I had a chance to walk out and look across the lake one more time. The water looked like molten gold and just as I turned to leave, five wild geese rose in unison and, mournfully honking, flew away. I swear they were saying: Come back again some day, come back...
For as St. Ignatius of Loyola said, Love is an exchange of gifts...