The ride in the car took only about 30 minutes through Chicago’s congested and noisy streets. My mother and I sat mostly in silence. There was simply not much else to be said.
June 11, 1975.
I was on my way to join a counter-cultural group of Christians who wanted to love Jesus and change the world. The prayer and preparation had taken over a year. The calling was clear.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” she asked.
I was her firstborn, the first of four. She had hopes and dreams for me. College degrees, successful career, prestigious address in the suburbs or perhaps on Lake Shore Drive. Stability. This is certainly not what she had envisioned for me and her disappointment was apparent. She comforted herself with the possibility that her daughter was going through a phase. In a year or two I would get it out of my system and come to my senses.
“Mom! Yes! Haven’t we talked about this a million times?” I replied with all the 18 year-old drama I could muster in my voice.
I was leaving home. Not across the country, but simply across the city. About to embark on my own journey as an adult. Ready to leave childhood behind me. I wasn’t sure if this was what I was looking for, but I was going to give it a good try. Would I be there a month, a year, or longer? I didn’t know and was looking to God to give direction and unfold the story.
We pulled up beside a large building that had seen better days. Faith Tabernacle. A former wrestling arena with a checkered past that was now a church. It was at the corner of Broadway and Grace.
I hoisted a large yellow vinyl suitcase out of the trunk. In it were all of my worldly possessions.
Then we embraced. Tears flowed. “I love you, Mom,” I blubbered. “I love you, too,” was the reply between sobs.
“I’ll be OK.”
I rang the doorbell. The door opened. My mother drove away as I glanced back and walked through the door. In the background I could hear people singing strains of an old, familiar hymn, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound. . . ”
Today, it has been forty amazing, challenging, wonderful, awful, awesome years since that memorable ride of just over three miles. The journey is one that I would not trade for anything.