It has been quite the weekend.
I headed up to Chicago with Holly on Friday morning. We decided to take my car because her new car was not available to her yet, and taking a rental up to the windy city didn't seem like the best idea. After fixing a "low coolant" situation, we headed north.
It was bitter cold. That type of freeze that grips your entire self and makes it almost impossible to breathe. All that you want to do is scream. Anyway, we toughed out the wind tunnel, into and out of a few different stores, after grabbing a late-afternoon lunch at a newly discovered corner Italian cafe.
I love Chicago in the winter. It dawned on me, while there, that I have rarely attended Chicago in the summer time. I always go up in the winter, when lights are twinkling on every corner, people are scurrying to and fro, and the snow is falling softly from the sky, adding a sparkling touch to the city's already-charming nature. It's so festive and fun, lively and musical. Every block introduces a new song, whether pounded out on a bucket with sticks or emitted as a melodic Christmas tune from a department store's speakers.
Holly's brother and sister-in-law live just blocks away from N. Michigan Ave., easily accessible by way of the El. (The title heading above the conveniently placed maps that try to somehow explain this very intricate transportation system call it the "Loop," but I learned this weekend that it is called the "El" because it is "elevated," contrasting the subway system.)
Anyway, their apartment is above a restaurant, more famously known as the location where "Return to Me," was filmed. We met up with her family and enjoyed some Nonna's pizza on the top. Then, we made the 4-block walk in the dark but festive cold to Moody Bible Church. It is such a beautiful church.
Among entry, we saw dozens of familiar faces from my church, including my parents. Our seats were on the side balcony, and we packed in to view the annual Christmas Program that takes place every year. This year's theme was "Jesus- A Savior to All." It may sound generic until you think about it. The program executed this concept by way of display of many different countries and cultures, and illustrated it musically accordingly. We heard a wonderful orchestra, mens' and womens' choirs, bells, the entire chorale, and saw touching drama. Moving picture visuals and narration was also incorporated.
It was during this performance that I realized a truth that I have known for quite some time, but it seemed to affect me differently. Music paired with visuals moves me. Really moves me. So much so that it is not past me to get choked up during a television commercial. There is something so powerful about what we hear that plays on what we see, and we you can easily make an emotional connection with the two (and you happen to be a highly "feeling" individual such as myself), you are moved. It makes logical sense. In some ways, it goes back to my "personality type" fetish- those of a more, "objective, thinking nature," may not be so affected, because their ties to reality grounds them enough not to be come emotional over a simple performance. Such an individual may instead consider the historical data that was relayed in this particular production, or marvel at the details and structure of execution. Yet whenever I see music put with picture, tears come to my eyes. Inspiration fills my heart, and at that very moment I want to go running fast to the "creating board" to construct my own message to the world.
Needless to say, it was an awe-inspiring performance that told the story of Jesus in a fantastic way.
Saturday morning welcomed us with a soft blanket of snow, and somehow, a warmer day. It came and went, and after a quick trip to Macy's, the group plus another couple ate lunch at Weber Grill. Holly and I split a burger, and then we were on our way back to Central Illinois.
I spent my Saturday evening in Bloomington outside of a Walmart, right behind a red Salvation Army bucket with a bell and a group of singers. The ISU Young Group huddled together from 6-8 pm and sang many, many carols. I brought some coffee with me, and started out in the front. It was very cold, but it was a nice view. It was touching to see how many gave. The little mittened hands of a child all the way up to the limping elderly dug in their pockets for change or inserted a crisp $5 bill. The feedback for our singing was wonderful. At one point I ended up in the very back so that those in front could be a "wall" of warmth. The only problem was that my view was blocked, so I had a tall friend nudge me whenever someone contributed. It was neat to see so many giving hearts.
I don't often watch television, as I see it as a waste of good time. However, a few weeks ago I had the News on as I worked, and the Salvation Army commercial came on. I love how it was put together, and all night I thought about it. This would be an example of a commercial that brings tears to my eyes.
The evening was topped off by a warm fire, lots of cookies and baked goods, and a viewing of Miracle on 34th Street in black & white. I have something to say about b/w films. I have never been a fan. I have always felt as though I am missing out when I don't see something in color. To the contrary, I feel as though at times, a black & white photograph is more effective than in color. Yet last night, after viewing the entire film in b/w, I had a change in heart. The altogether vintage nature of this movie, paired with its wholesome themes and Christmas-time message showed me a new way to enjoy the moving picture. It was a wonderful time.
I awoke this morning feeling a bit feverish. Also, my throat was very sore. It was as if I could not swallow. The thermometer confirmed a low-grade temperature, and my swollen glands and raw throat to boot kept me home from church today. It was funny, because I was not the least bit tired, and I should have been. With mind over matter, I went back to sleep for a couple of hours and then awoke feeling quite fantastic, as the 3 Advil had set in. Yet at the same time, I felt as though I was missing out. I don't like "missing" out, and I kept thinking about everyone at church.
Tonight is my favorite Christmas event that our church does, which is Christmas caroling. We go around and sing at several locations, and then enjoy a wonderful chili dinner afterwards.
Tomorrow marks the start of another predictablly busy week with Imagine Artists. Christmas Card Rush is still at high speed, but I think that after these next 5 days, we may be past the best of it. I am going to go chug some Gatorade now, and possibly take a little rest. Being under the weather can hardly keep me away from "work," and I have put in a few hours this afternoon, so I best be off to rest.
Love you all!