5.04.2011

Public Transit

Five years ago I wrote A Little Essay About Freeways, Which Also Functions as a Metaphor for Pastoral Ministry. I never explicitly mentioned ministry itself, and can't really recall what I thought the connection was. I think I mostly just wanted to brag about having finally figured out how to drive in Los Angeles, after several years of hyperventilating at the sight of fourteen lanes of traffic.

Today I took the Metra and L into into downtown Chicago and back, by myself. Last summer I traveled by Metra a couple times with Ben as guide and companion, but I hadn't ventured to the city alone. I had a meeting on Michigan Avenue in the middle of the day, and happily seized the opportunity to bring a book (two, in fact: Grace Based Parenting and Pollyanna) and take an adventure. I was a little nervous about the transfers, and admit that I called Ben in an addlepated panic because I didn't know which direction to take the Pink line. If you know Chicago you know this is funny because the lines only go in one direction.

I adore Chicago. I only know it in brief and broad strokes at this point, given that I spend most of my days tucked away in our little village suburb. But it just resonates with me. We're compatible (except for WXRT's insistence on playing far too many Counting Crows songs). And I'm downright enchanted by the public transportation system.

It's funny: I was convinced that my little essay about driving around the freeways of LA was really about ministry. But driving around in a car alone? That isn't really an accurate depiction of life in the church. Except for one dimension: life in the church as a solo pastor, on the lonely days.

I wasn't driving today. I didn't have any control over the schedule, and couldn't do anything about it when my inbound train was running late. But what you give up in autonomy you gain in freedom, when it comes to trains, and perhaps also associate ministry. The burden of responsibility is not solely on my shoulders; otherwise I could never have read Pollyanna while hurtling toward Union Station. Still, I got there. And I wasn't alone, but with a congregation of travelers all going the same direction, their heads bobbing in unison over their newspapers and novels.

(And now I have Mr. Jones and Me in my head.)

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