Art, Soul, Black Jesus and Throbbing Knees; destination Chicago, IL accomplished

I met up with my new host, Melody, Sunday evening just in time to catch the end of the annual Ravenswood Art walk not too far from where she lives.  It’s a lot like the Arthop in Burlington only not quite as big as there are more than one of these events throughout Chicago as opposed to just one in all of Burlington.  It was nice to see so much pottery.  The Lillstreet building in particular was inspiring.  The image I’ve added here is a ceramic tea pot by Lisa Harris.  I especially enjoyed her work.

That evening, Melody and I had a quiet night staying in.  We made a decent indian-inspired dinner, drank some wine and she played her guitar while I wrote.  She is a cute petite woman from southern Indiana with shaggy blonde hair and a slight twang in her voice.  I like that her performance is slightly edgy and raw, at times soft and pretty, and always inspiring.  She can play some classics like ‘Hotel California’ but she has more of a country folk flair that made her rendition of Ray LaMontagne much more compelling.  And her original pieces made my eyes sparkle a little.

The next morning we stopped by a local thrift store for 50% off Mondays.  The place was obviously swarming with people who were able to move among each other with expert social movements.  An aerial view would make it seem like a dance.  You learn how to manuever pretty quickly weaving through people in aisles that embody a fire hazard.  Oddly enough, Melody and I both found items in the kids section.  She’s so thin, she was able to find a dress that fit while I found what I call a hipster hunter’s jacket as its red plaid but double breasted like a pea coat.  It’s getting colder so I was happy to upgrade my thinning corduroy jacket to a warmer wool coat for only 6 dollars.

We had a great lunch.  I could easily survive off toasted goat cheese and avocado sandwiches.  We quickly headed out on the bikes after and spent the afternoon riding along the Lake Shore trail.  We stopped at the Navy Pier and kept our distance from the tourists.  Octoberfest was going on and the solicitations were particularly obnoxious.  So we retreated to the most unlikely museum that you would think to find at a pier, the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows.

The museum was actually quite interesting.  There is a large collection of Tiffany stained glass which was more religious inspired than I would have otherwise thought.  As you progress down the halls, there are other styles.  I took a lot of photos but I’ve inserted the one that my inspiration began with.  This angel is very similar to the Persian angel that adorns a pin on my traveling bag.  I also appreciated a very simple design with the symbol of Luke, a ram with wings, and a large depiction of Christ with a refreshingly dark complexion.  I was disappointed however that the description of the piece only alludes to it being a depiction of Jesus.  It never names him but does say that the original painting the window was inspired by was shown with the text from Revelations 3. 20: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come into him, and will sup with him, and he wih me.”

As a side note, it is likely that Jesus was not caucasian as typically depicted.  However, I really enjoyed my friend, Sandy’s, answer when I challenged her with the question of his race.  As a devoted and practicing Christian, she did not confirm or deny and simply replied that it really did not matter.  Thank you for that, I firmly agree.  In the end, the color of a man’s skin should not matter if you worship the deeds you attribute to him.  From a Christian point of view,  Jesus was more than a man and therefore would transcend any earthly attribute so arbitrary as skin color.

We rode down to the Buckingham fountain which was rather majestic and started our way back.  It was a long ride and riding into the wind on the way back forced me to employ adrenaline to overcome the pain of my throbbing knees and butt long enough to accomplish the task at hand.  I wouldn’t realize until the next morning just how out of shape the muscles around my knees were.  It was completely worth it though, spending so much time in the car in the last couple weeks, I needed the exercise.  And there was no way I would be driving anywhere near the city.  I had made that mistake already.

My last night in Chicago was spent at a fantastic open mic night at an Uncommon Ground coffeehouse.  I was completely blown away by the talent of the handful of people that sang.  Nearly every one of them had an acoustic guitar and an original song.  A guitarist and violinist duo played a rendition of a Rodrigo y Gabriela song that was so amazing I could barely believe what I was witnessing.  A small latina woman named Danielle Sloan played two of her original pieces, one of which she had written only a week before, with awesome precision and a voice that might make Adele’s mouth drop.  I felt so fortunate to experience their talents; I immediately wanted to cultivate my own.

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