You may have noticed that the streets look different now. There is not any great congestion of cars or trucks. Instead, you may see an occasional jogger. The scene can feel a bit eerie.
Instead, I have noticed a resurgence of wildlife. There are more deer in my neighborhood, a wolf was spotted just the other day. There have been pictures in on the internet with sheep roaming down streets in Wales.
Yes, there was even a coyote spotted running down the middle of Michigan Avenue.
Chicago is a very busy, thriving city. The picture of the streets being empty is quite out of the norm considering the normal hustle and bustle of the windy city with broad shoulders.
Chicago has given us Mike Ryoko, Studs Terkel, Michelle Obama, Scott Turow, Jane Bryne, David Axelrod, Seymour Hersch and a whole cast of other luminaries.
I met another one of these notables one night may years ago.
I had attended a marriage and family therapy conference at a downtown hotel. After the conference meeting, I was walking through the falling lake effect snow, in the Navy Dress Blue uniform and my heavy bridge coat. I was happy to have on me that evening as it was cold, and the wind was starting to blow.
As I walked north on Michigan Avenue towards the Northwestern Station to take my train to Waukegan, suddenly in front of The Art Institute, I ran into the former Catholic priest and author Andrew Greeley.
“How are you Chaplain? “asked the priest.
“I’m fine, Father. “
Then, Andrew Greeley paused and added:
“It’s a shame about Father Mike “
This was a telling statement. I knew, of course, the individual that Father Greeley was referencing. I knew the circumstances and the reason for their demise.
At that moment, it was just the two of us on a silent snowy Michigan Avenue with the snow falling brightened by the overhead streetlights.
As I looked at the street at the Art Institute, I thought this could have been cast in a movie.
As people, we long to congregate as be a part of a community, and then again there are times in which we are solitary and alone.
The coyote on Michigan Avenue had the run of the street. The Chicago landscape was his for the moment.
The current pandemic is again reminding us that we are not the only ones who are living here. There are other species and life forms that are a part of our biosphere.
Maybe we can cultivate some humility and compassion to care for all the life that is around us.
Maybe when we are out walking again on Michigan Avenue and elsewhere that we can be grateful for all that life will bring us.
I sure hope so.
May it be so.