This morning, I woke up and left my hotel in Milwaukee, WI. I am here to attend the 32ND General Synod of The United Church of Christ. It’s a bright sunny day.
As I start to walk east on Wisconsin Avenue, I am beginning to feel the pulse and energy of this Midwestern city. It’s a town that was built by beer distributors. The city also served as the location for the television sitcoms “Happy Days “and “Laverne And Shirley. “
Milwaukee is old, it has been here quite a while. You observe that when you see the cobble stone bricks, probably dating back to the 19Th century, inlaid in the four-way intersection
Like a lot of American downtown areas, Milwaukee is a mix of professional buildings, vacant old department stores (Boston Company), cafes, theatres and a lot of whimsical art.
I greet Rev. John Dorhauer, President of The United Church of Christ. We see each other near the bridge crossing the river by the Riverside Theatre. We talk about churches, mental health, retirement and ministry.
Further east down the street there are old big majestic buildings like Northwestern Mutual Insurance. The federal building is under massive renovation with scaffolding literally covering the entire building.
I arrive at Lake Michigan in front of the Lakeside Art Pavilion. The breeze of the lake and the sounds of the seagulls flying overhead and the sight of the Japanese Koi’s floating in the air is soothing. Being near the water again is refreshing to me.
I’m remembering my days as a Navy Chaplain down the road at Naval Training Station Great Lakes, Il; when I lived in Zion and Waukegan, Il. I’m remembering going to the Friday Fish Fry at the Brass Ball in Paddock, WI , to Happy Bill’s in Zion, Il.
Those years were tumultuous and full of great transition for me. I left serving the Navy in an active duty capacity, went back to graduate school, earned my Masters of Social Work degree at Jane Addams College of Social Work, University of Illinois At Chicago.
I had the pleasure and privilege of being a part of a great study cohort group. This community greatly sustained me during my graduate education program. We were able to provide support for one another and for our work.
Now years later, I am reflecting again on the importance of being a part of a community, whether it be religious, or a learning or perhaps even a service community. We grow as humans when we work together. We are stronger as we walk together. I am again consciously of this reality as a I walk down Wisconsin Avenue.
It’s all coming back now. The past does indeed inform the present and we begin to move into the future.
For me, the waters of Lake Michigan and the sounds of the birds remind me of sustainability and endurance, fortitude and yes even grace.
Yes, even in struggle and uncertainty, there is grace for you and there is grace for me.
May it be so.