The MMP is late because I have been on vacation in Chicago. It began, actually, as a business trip and morphed into a few carefree days in the extremely Windy City. I had been to Chicago and through there a handful of times but never spent any time exploring the city. So, accompanied by my faithful partner in adventure, I determined to do so.
Magnificent Mile and then some…
We started our exploration on the Magnificent Mile. We bought a hat at Bloomingdale’s, browsed exclusive stores where I could barely afford to window shop, strolled down Michigan Avenue amid its breath-taking skyscrapers and ornate storefronts, and drank coffee in a four-story Starbucks.
That first day, we walked 4.9 miles of the Magnificent Mile, which makes you think.
In the ensuing days, we included visits to hallowed Wrigley Field, Soldier Field, Millennium Park and the glistening Bean, the waterless Buckingham Fountain (which may inspire its own MMP), and the Navy Pier.
In a four-day span, we walked 23.8 miles of Chicago concrete.
About that Navy Pier!
It was late afternoon and we were tired when we decided to squeeze in one more destination. We had not really seen much of Lake Michigan and the Navy Pier seemed the perfect place to do so. Frankly, we were unimpressed. There was not much to look at. The lake was nice and there was a Ferris wheel that was not operating.
And the wind! The wind was bitter and cold, whistling off that mighty lake like it was looking for someplace warmer and in a big damn hurry to get there. I turned my ball cap backward when I leaned into the wind and frontwards when it was at my back. A person could not fly a kite in that wind but a kite could surely fly a person. We looked at each other, my wife and I, and agreed to get the heck out in an Uber.
“First,” she said, “let’s just look in the gift shop. I still need something to take back to the boys.”
And that is how we discovered a Navy Pier underworld we had no idea was there. We entered what we thought was a gift shop and found an entire mall with a food court, a couple of bars, a restaurant, gift and curio shops, art, and more. We walked what we thought was the entirety of the place.
That is when we happened on a sign painted on a pillar. It read, “Keep Going. There’s more.”
Signs and wonders…
It hit me smack in the face, that sign.
I have felt for some time that the best times of my life were behind me. Gone were the days of my youth, when I enjoyed an idyllic smalltown childhood in the perfect era to be a kid in America. Gone were the wonder years of my teens when the world opened before me a map of endless possibilities and alluring destinations. Gone were the early days of adulthood when I was freshly married to a teenage beauty queen. Gone were the glory days of pursuing my passion from a pulpit. Gone were the days of burping babies and teaching my kids to ride a bike. Gone were my forties and fifties, when one expects to hit his stride, to make his mark.
I am sixty.
I felt like maybe I missed the boat. Maybe I took one too many detours, made one too many missteps. Now, here I am staring down senior citizen discounts. Here I am working out kinks in my back and walking on sore knees and hurting feet. Here I am. What is left?
What is left???
I stared at that pillar and its message. I may as well have been Daniel reading the writing on the wall for King Nebuchadnezzar. Or Moses staring at the messages on the stone tablets. Or Saul of Tarsus (soon to be the Apostle Paul) when the voice of Jesus interrupts his planned trip to Damascus.
For me, God interrupted a mundane mall visit to deliver a timely message. The message was there waiting for me. Who knows how long it had been there? Who knows who thought to leave it there? One thing is sure, whomever it was never thought about me reading it …or it reading me. How could they have?
The same message that told browsers there was plenty more mall to see said something different to me…
“What is done is done. What you have seen, you’ve seen. Where you have gone, you’ve gone. Don’t stop doing, seeing, or going. Keep going! There’s more…”