Thursday, November 17, 2011

MUNDELEIN, MUNDELEIN: MY VISIT WITH WORD ON FIRE

CHICAGO RIVER
HI, I'M A TOURIST!
THE WRIGLEY BUILDING

I flew to Chicago last week, had pizza in town, and stayed at Mundelein Seminary.

 My room had wide windowsill ledges on which to place snacks and books, an old-school radiator, a view of the quadrangle, a bathroom with spacious old sink, wooden medicine cabinet, and patinaed copper fixtures, a simple crucifix on the wall, and a gigantic "living room" (well-worn Schirmer's Mozart sonatas open on the grand piano) into which I padded in the morning to fetch my coffee.

"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.


THE DOORKNOB IN MY ROOM
Mundelein has its own lake, with a three-mile perimeter. Graceful bridges, Georgian brick buildings, meandering paths through the trees. I took a long walk at dusk, noticing the little crosses on top of the lamps that line the bridges, the squirrels, the crowns of the trees against the sky...






Thank you for having me, Word on Fire.



As St. Ignatius of Loyola said, Love is an exchange of gifts...

15 comments:

  1. Oh, how awesome, Heather! I'm glad things went so well in Chicago, and that you got to meet such great people!

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  2. Wonderful! I had lunch with the crew here in Birmingham and (not suprisingly) they spoke with great warmth and high praise of what you had to share.

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  3. Liked your account, Heather, and as usual, loved the pics. Do you use the camera on your phone or something more specialized?
    Erin

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  4. Thanks, Dylan--I really did have a blast...every trip (probably because I don't make that many of them, thank the Lord), has its own gestalt...

    Amy, Fr. Barron said they were gonna meet with you the next night--so exciting! And small world...and another beautiful exchange of gifts, I'm sure.

    And Erin, I use a little Canon point and shoot that I bought off amazon refurbished for a little over a hundred bucks...it's the first camera I have ever owned and the pix for my blog the first pix I've ever taken. I find the world continuously, spontaneously shows up and if I'm lucky, I'm there to "see" it...to steal away for an hour and watch the sun setting over the water at Vespers was the loveliest coda to the day I could have imagined...

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  5. 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...

    This brought tears to my eyes... so true.

    Glad you had a great visit!

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  6. So glad you had a great visit Heather.
    The Seminary is a wonderful, sacred place, isn't it? It's all the details, from the grotto with all the little notes and prayers tucked into the nooks and crannies of the rock; to those beautiful wooden doors and sparse furnishings in the residence halls; to the fading, rusting emblems on the lamposts; and the beautiful silence of the woods.
    Now you know why the place makes me happy and my soul sing.
    Keep up the good work. Love your writing!
    Gail

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  7. "Now where are the Great Lakes from here?"

    I couldn't laugh too hard at this, since I'm obviously no better: At Griffith Park last weekend, a lost jogger asked me for directions to the observatory. "What observatory?" I asked. Pfft.

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  8. Heather--next time you're in the Mundelein area, stop by at the Cardinal Stritch Retreat House--on the eastern edge of the Mundelein campus. As a big fan of yours (and another "ex-lawyer"--and now director of the retreat house), I'd love to tell you how much I have enjoyed your writing. And, yes, the Word on Fire people are the best.

    Richard

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  9. I hope you can return...and not just because the seminary is also stunning in winter..and spring..and summer.
    (Did you get to Marytown? If not, I hope can the next time you visit!)

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  10. Sounds like you had a terrific trip. I have not read anything by Fr. Barron, but I picked up (at the library-Thank GOD for libraries)
    Between Heaven and Mirth by Fr.James Martin, S.J. Oh,those Jesuits:)

    I need humor.

    That was a lovely bag of gifts and you shouldn't be too ascetic. Life is difficult enough.

    Regarding the Great Lakes- my own little story is this: a number of years ago on a trip to visit a cousin in my favorite city- San Francisco-I was standing at a bus stop and someone asked me where a certain record store was. I said- " I think it's that way." Only because I had passed it on my long walks.

    Glad your home safe. Nice pictures as well.

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  11. Sounds like you had a terrific trip. I have not read anything by Fr. Barron, but I picked up (at the library-Thank GOD for libraries)
    Between Heaven and Mirth by Fr.James Martin, S.J. Oh,those Jesuits:)

    I need humor.

    That was a lovely bag of gifts and you shouldn't be too ascetic. Life is difficult enough.

    Regarding the Great Lakes- my own little story is this: a number of years ago on a trip to visit a cousin in my favorite city- San Francisco-I was standing at a bus stop and someone asked me where a certain record store was. I said- " I think it's that way." Only because I had passed it on my long walks.

    Glad your home safe. Nice pictures as well.

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  12. I loved this post, a wonderful account of a fruitful journey. And I'm just a little obsessed (if that's possible) by that doorknob.

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  13. I am SO with you on that doorknob, Nancy--inside and out, they were, and I, too, was mesmerized. I even went on ebay briefly, but saw no such beautiful thing...thank you...

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  14. I agree about the doorknob and the photos you always take. Gee, the fingers that must have touched such a doorknob all this time -- what was the day's destination? Oh, history in taste, scent, and touch -- very Catholic, eh?

    A friend (who works and lives at our Mt. Wilson Observatory as an astronomer)recorded "Catholicism" for me -- the first 4 episodes. I am having difficulty watching it without weeping. The sights and sounds and words just blow me away everytime. I'm on my four watch of the first four episodes.

    My 19-year old daughter comes into the living room, glances at the t.v. screen, hears Father Barron's voice and grins, "Listening to your friend, again, Mom?"

    Went to Father Barron's talk at R.E. Congress in Anaheim this Spring -- he really inspired us about how to talk to agnostics and atheist i.e. "That mean God you are angry with -- well, that's not the God I worship. Can I tell you about Him -- the one I worship?" He's inspired yet practical.

    He's doing it, you know? Doing what he must. As we all (hopefully) are.

    You, Heather, are doing what you must -- write.

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    Just what Out Lord had in mind, huh?

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