Sunday, November 23, 2008

chicago love

I have been falling in love with Chicago recently. Well I've always been in love with Chicago, but the feeling has been becoming more prominent as a walk through the streets. This is for a number of reasons. We have been looking for jobs in Washington D.C. The place where its all at. The destiny our educations have prepared us for. But after spending three months there last hot and lonely summer, it's hard to be excited about it. I love Chicago's jazz history. I love how cold it gets; we all hate it and we all love it.  But its not just me who has a romance with Chicago. I'm not the only one who's chest swells exploring the old book stores in Hyde Park, or walking through Grant Park under a gray sky and surrounded by orange leaves with the Art Institute lions in the distance. I'm not the only one gets giddy when the Christkindle Market pops up in Daley Plaza or when the hot summer brings out the hipster dancers at the six corners in Wicker Park or the cadre of music festivals in all corners of the city. Many others have recognized the unique rough elegance of a city of industry in the heart of the midwest, with a history of labor, slaughter, The World's Fair, Art Deco skyscrapers, and wind in all its definitions. 

A few weeks ago Pastor Bob at Grace Chicago read Sandburg's 'Chicago' to use the city as an illustration of God's love for his children. We are broken. We are sinful. And yet there is value there, and we are loved. Chicago is that rough sinful person in all its beauty.

"HOG Butcher for the World,
     Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
     Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
     Stormy, husky, brawling,
     City of the Big Shoulders:

They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I
     have seen your painted women under the gas lamps
     luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it
     is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to
     kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the
     faces of women and children I have seen the marks
     of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who
     sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer
     and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing
     so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on
     job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the
     little soft cities;

Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning
     as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
          Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with
     white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young
     man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has
     never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse.
     and under his ribs the heart of the people,
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of
     Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog
     Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with
     Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation."

- Carl Sandburg, 1916

No matter where I go, or how long I'm gone, Chicago will be with me. I will be a Chicagoan. I love listening to the Illinois album by Sufjan Stevens. The state is used as a means to communicate many things, again often our relationships with God, but I still feel kindred with lyrics that appreciate the beauty and significance of our often dreary midwest state. 

Come on! Feel the Illinoise!: Pt. 1: The Worlds Columbian Exposition - Sufjan Stevens


mateo said...

great poem. i miss the city.

Laura said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laura said...

I miss you in the city.