Coping and Praying

As you probably know, my permanent home is in Peoria. Before the pandemic, I drove to Chicago early in the week—usually either very early on a Sunday morning or on Monday morning—and home on Thursday. Recently, I have been driving up and back for one overnight stay a week since I am in zoom meetings whether I am in Chicago or Peoria. My drive is a study in contrasts.
When I leave Peoria, it is often still dark. Mostly what I need to watch for are deer; in fact, one ran into the side of my car in the summer of 2019. I am on two-lane roads, driving through small and tiny towns and, often, watching the sun come up. Peaceful. Then I get to rural interstates, first Interstate 39 and then the more challenging Interstate 80. I think of that portion of the drive as the intermediate challenge. Then I get to the edge of Chicago traffic, usually around Minooka. From then on it is high level, intense driving. You know what that is like.
On my way home it is, of course, the reverse. First the challenge. I have learned to time my leaving to the middle of the day. Otherwise, I just sit on the Stevenson Expressway for a long time. Once I get past Minooka, the traffic kind of sorts itself out and I just have to pass trucks on the interstate and watch out for people who think they are still driving in Chicago! Then, for the last hour, back to the two-lane roads and the deer and, soon, the tractors when harvest begins.
The picture that accompanies this post is a friendly little face that I see in the village of Varna on my way home. This smiling face looks to the north, so it greets me as I make my way through this tiny town with a huge grain elevator. I am glad to see the smiling face because I could have other feelings about Varna. I used to stop at the Casey’s gas station there sometimes so that I did not pull into my driveway on fumes. Used to, that is, until a skimmer on a gas pump there stole my debit card information. I got a call from my bank: “Did you charge gas at Casey’s in Varna at 2:30 and then at Casey’s in (another town) at 2:45 and then at a Casey’s in. . .at 3:06. . . . Uh, no. No, I did not.
Instead of focusing on that as I drive past that Casey’s (it is just out of range of this picture), I focus on this little face. Now, of course, it is not necessarily a smiling face. It is a rusty old garage door. But I choose to think of it as a little smiling face greeting me, apologizing for the bad day I once had in Varna.
How are you managing everything that is happening in the world right now? Are you marching in the streets for racial justice? Are you sitting in the sunshine as much as you can before the cold weather starts? Are you registering people to vote? Are you binge-watching the Great British Baking Show? Are you wearing your mask wherever you go? Are you learning to make sushi? Are you turning a rusty garage door into a smile?
Good for you. I hope however you are coping that you are also praying for justice and peace and wisdom so that justice may roll down like waters and righteousness like an everflowing stream. Let us ground ourselves in whatever way we can to the end that we can continue to share the hope in Jesus Christ that has changed our lives.
The Rev. Susan (Sue) Krummel
Executive Presbyter, Presbytery of Chicago