Friday, June 23, 2017

A Shadow of the Kingdom where Dunkin’ Donuts are EVERYWHERE…

By Sr. Laura Coughlin, SC Federation Perpetually Professed

      Click HERE to learn more about Laura

      Click HERE to learn more about the SC Federation

Next month I will be moving from Boston to Dayton, Ohio, to start a PhD at the University of Dayton.  My last few weeks before leaving have been spent trying to take one last, long, drink of Boston.  I’ve noted before on this blog my gratitude for this time of intellectual and personal enrichment.  In this post, I’d like to share my contemplation of this old American city’s greatness. 

These years were the first time in my adult life I’ve been without a car, not because my congregation isn’t generous about providing for my needs, but because it seemed that public transit here was more than sufficient for a rich and balanced life.  My first ride on the “T” was with my mother who was helping me with the move.  The driver saw that we were new in town, didn’t know quite what we were doing, and that my mom was getting up in years and had trouble with the steps.  He let us ride for free and gave us a big “welcome to Boston” smile.

That was perhaps my first experience of a public service professional building community in this large city that now feels to me like a big neighborhood.  There were other experiences that followed that one.  Once I watched an MBTA driver load an elderly homeless woman’s bags on the train.  Another time I observed a driver respond pleasantly to a lonely, but loquacious, woman who had parked herself in the first seat of the train.  I thought the driver and the woman were friends, but a few stops later the woman got off and told the driver how nice it was to have met her.  Then there was the time a policeman came out of Starbucks and said to the homeless man sitting in the alley, “hey buddy, how many creams and sugars do you want?  It’s not like Dunkin’ Donuts where they put the stuff in for ya.”  I once saw a postal worker cross a busy street to pick up a package from a woman who was waiting to catch a train to the post office.  He anticipated her need and saved her a trip.  She was both surprised and thankful.  I was glad to see his kindness, but I was not surprised because it measured up with my own experience of another postal worker who had carried all of my heavy boxes from his truck into my new residence in Boston.  His job didn’t obligate him to go the extra distance.  I have observed many other kindnesses here between and among people of diverse backgrounds, but the stories above suffice to make the point.

These stories reveal, I hope, the city’s living stones – those people who contribute to the vibrancy of an urban community, and to the attractiveness of people being together simply and in joy.  When I first moved here the bells and whistles of the train made me angry – “be QUIET!” I would think at 5 am when the first train rumbled by.  Now the noises of the city belong to a whole beautiful symphony of human beings who share space with one another in the ordinary traverse of a day.

Well, ok, it’s not always this perfect in Boston.  I guess these other things have also happened to me:

Happened today after they expressed a train. 

It’s true – the line for BC and BU has a gajillion stops.

I have exactly this kind of bad train karma in the way described above.

Yes, this happened in 2015 and the green line wasn’t working for a while.  So much snow.

But in all seriousness, I’ve loved it here – and the time I’ve spent “ridin’ the rails” gave me a perspective I didn’t have from a car.  Some final pictures of life in the city before moving on to my next adventure in Dayton…

Coffee and donuts after Mass?  Dunkin Donuts restaurants are EVERYWHERE here.  In this case, DD is located outside of an unusually placed Catholic chapel in the Prudential Center Mall.  The chapel is a mission of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, and I believe the Redemptorists also say Mass here.  The chapel is a great witness to Christ in a building that is beautifully architected, but mostly devoted to consumer habits. 

The city’s constant renovating stops for no one – not even for these serious fellows parked outside of beautiful Trinity Cathedral in Copley Square.  (I think the background figure is Jesus and the foreground figure is nineteenth century Episcopal preacher, Phillips Brooks).

I don’t really like mirrored buildings, but I like this one.  It’s always reflective of something interesting that God is doing “on high.”

This year is the centennial of JFK’s birth.  One site on my bucket list is the JFK Library.  I WILL GET THERE!

Honk if you love Karl Marx!  Yep, Boston is pretty liberal.

A lucky find on my way home from downtown the other day – Arlington Street Church (Unitarian) has sixteen large Tiffany windows.  This is a small detail from one. 

You can tour the windows for whatever you can afford, although they recommend $10.  Totally worth it.  All were beautiful and I even found the original of a small replica of a stained glass I was given as a gift by my brother, John, on the day I took first vows.  Exciting to see the original of something I’ve hung up as an expression of faith in every convent in which I’ve lived since then. 

The replica actually looks very close to the original (shown here).

Perhaps my favorite place in Boston is the Boston Public Library.  This is a detail from the ceiling in the main reading room.  I’d like to write another whole essay on how libraries bring a very diverse set of people together in a constructive way. 

And the best for last:

Beautiful Gasson Hall on main campus, as well as Simboli Hall, which houses the School of Theology and Ministry.

Thank you Jesuits, teachers, and friends, for everything you did for me at BC.  I have loved my time at the school and in Boston. 

Thank you Sisters of Charity for supporting this time – What a gift!

Thank you Jesus for giving religious men and women, and now many laypeople also, these opportunities to experience the adventure of Catholic Christianity so deeply and wonderfully with others.

And now it’s time for the next adventure!

UDayton, here I come!

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