Archives for posts with tag: windy cities

Great Lakes and Internships

chicago_skyline_and_lake_michigan-640x357September 3, 2002

“Ahhhh … finally I lay eyes on beautiful Lake Michigan. Its average depth of 279 feet determines it the second deepest of the five Great Lakes. On the other hand, Lake Erie’s average depth of 62 feet predisposes it to be the shallowest. Lake Michigan’s water varies day by day from light blue to dark blue to bluish green, while Lake Erie’s limited depth remains a steady gray.

“Once again Hyde Park is my destination for another interview, and it just so happens to be within walking distance of the Lake. The walkway in front of the circa 1933 Science and Industry Museum beckons me to come over. My eyes are instantly fixed on a sandy beach and a park with many pathways; I feel like Alice in Wonderland sliding down a tunnel into a magical place. Huge concrete blocks surround the shoreline and are identical to those at Cleveland’s Wildwood Beach on Lake Erie.

“Memories of my teenage summers in Cleveland promptly pop up. We teens in the East 185th Street neighborhood traversed these monster blocks on a dare. They were irregular, uneven masses of material that formed the fishing pier. We dare devils needed balance not only for the massive rocks, but most of all for the steel ‘one-foot-at-a-time’ beam that led to the end of the pier. Believe it or not, the return trip was the hardest trek!”

Internships

As a Novice living in Chicago and in formation for vowed membership with the Franciscan Sisters, I am expected to either work or to study in an outreach ministry program. My interests and experiences are spiritual direction and Hospice care. Lucky me finds one of each and signs up for both!

My Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program does not work with Hospice. Although I am disappointed not working with those who are terminally ill, I am enthused to work with formerly homeless women with children. Therefore, my Spiritual Direction Internship helps me learn how to help others as well as myself. Both internships require regular meetings that include soul searching, letter writing, and self evaluations.

The women’s group consists of several women with children who are living in a supportive low-income apartment complex.  Some of these mothers lost custody of their children; some regained custody; others had relatives who helped with the children; others had no help.  There are two fathers living with their families. Most of the women work outside the home and/or attend school; some are drawing disability insurance due to physical disabilities or injuries received from accidents.

The majority of the women are recovering from addictions and some are mandated by law to undergo recovery treatment.  Therefore, the focus of the semimonthly support group meeting I lead is the workbook entitled The Twelve Steps – A Spiritual Journey to Healing Damaged Emotions.  The common belief of the group is that through God, and especially God as revealed in Scripture, all things are possible, and it is through prayer that addictions can be overcome and conquered.

My ministry of presence with the women moves in various directions throughout the year. At one point I consider my role to be that of midwife, the one who helps new life into being and protects it, who does things “with,” not “to” the person giving birth, who helps the birth giver toward ever greater self knowledge. It is helpful to have a midwife to accompany us in any birthing process.

A primary key growth area for me throughout my ministry site experience is recognizing when to be flexible.  I learn repeatedly that relaxing into the flow of what is happening lends to greater awareness of the situation

Discernment is a way of life.  I attempt to actively listen to people as well as to my inner being as I travel on the road to vowed life.

By the way, Hyde Park is the center of my education; Lake Michigan, my haven.

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Big City travels …

Hyde Park pic

Compliments of the free encyclopedia … Wikipedia

August 22, 2002

“Today Paula and I do a dry run, via the Chicago Transit Authority, to Hyde Park, situated on the shore of Lake Michigan and located seven miles south of the Chicago Loop. The trek requires two buses — the first one stops on our street corner, and the second at Midway Airport. From door-to-door, the trip takes one hour and forty-five minutes.

On our return trip we manage to catch an express bus back to Midway, hoping it will be quicker. The lady driver reminds everyone who boards that it is an express bus, which means it doesn’t stop at every side street. She also blows her horn frequently, reminding me of New York City. Paula and I are eventually the only passengers, and the driver shares her frustrations and struggles with us.

‘People just don’t listen when I remind them that stops are more infrequent… and I feel bad when they get mad at me.’

As we listen and converse with her, she reveals several of her difficulties. Her mood becomes much brighter. She says we are the best thing that happened to her today; we return that she is good for us, too, because this is our first ride on public transportation since we moved here a month ago. Her response, ‘You mean you aren’t from Chicago? NO WONDER YOU ARE SO NICE!’

We chalk that experience up to bus ministry. Our street ministry consists of meeting the neighbors on our daily walks. Needless to say, this close-knit Polish neighborhood knows much about us and asks questions, like, ‘Who has the small bedroom?’ Paula immediately responds, ‘That would be me!’ Most of the neighbors lived here forty-plus years and knew the lady who lived in our house until she died. One even asks how we like the Jacuzzi (another story coming down the road)!”

Let me step back in time to share some of my history.

My roots sprouted in the International land of Northern Ohio and thrived over the next sixteen years. Each set of my grandparents originated from European countries. Great Lake Erie was my playground, as was the Metropolitan Park system in that it preserved the land’s natural beauty. Euclid Beach Amusement Park provided fun for all ages, from amazing rides to homemade taffy, candy kisses, and their famous popcorn balls.

Accessing downtown Cleveland was an adventure: we traveled by bus or by the Rapid Transit that dipped underground in spots and ended underneath the Terminal Tower, a 52-story “skyscraper” built in 1930. Shopping experiences encountered huge buildings with revolving doors, elevators, escalators, and crowds of fast-walking people. As a child, I found the blustery winters difficult to maneuver. Mother taught me how to angle our backs against the wind and snow as we turned each corner,  then lay into the fury an inch at a time, and walk backward until we reached the next store.

More than fifty years later, Chicago becomes home. Its well-known nickname, “Windy City,” does not speak of the wind off Lake Michigan. In fact, it was coined in reference to Chicago’s braggart politicians who were deemed to be “full of hot air.” Since I was raised in a big city, my enthusiasm is high, and I feel secure knowing how to battle the forces. The truth be told, Chicago is the third-largest city in the United States while Cleveland ranks forty-fifth.

Regardless of the largeness of Chicago, I navigate the city without a problem, love riding the “El” above ground, and treasure my two-year stay. Navigating my old Toyota Corolla around town is a cinch; however, parking is not and the car incurred several indentations.

And, at no time do I ride another bus.