My commute

 A 10-minute walk. Or a quick bus ride on lazy days.

The elevated “L.” Our precious working-class Pink-line to the Loop. The Loop. Chicago’s downtown. Quintessential city-hurry with a midwestern flare.

To the Red Line. Underground. [Subverting the city until it’s far from the Loop again].

3 blocks to the Quigley Center, where I work.

Every day, I walk about 10 minutes, then take two different trains into the city to work. It takes about an hour on average. It may sound monotonous and boring at first, but I promise it is anything but that!

I LOVE my commute.

I know that part of my love for my commute is because I love the “L”– Chicago’s train system. The first time on it with my community I could hardly contain my excitement. See below for evidence:

First “L” Ride back during Orientation! I’m a seasoned pro now 😉

It’s a wonderful time to reflect, pray, read, and people- watch.   I’ve always loved airports and traveling for these reasons. And now it’s like a get to ride in an airplane everyday! Minus the unpleasant security experience.

And the “L” crowd is so diverse! When I get on the train, I’d say it’s majority working-class Latinos and African-Americans, and as we approach the Loop, we add some hipsters, some yuppies of all ethnicities, some gray-haired businessmen, and some probably homeless people. I love how equalizing it is.  We all need to get somewhere. And we’re all using the same method of transportation.  And as I look around, I’m reminded of how small I sometimes let our God be. I’m reminded to let God out of the box I try to contain “Him” in.

Each and every person on that train, each and every person I see on each and every commute, is made in God’s image and likeness. God created each of us. WOW! God loves each of us as his Beloved. The self-centered yuppie trying to make her way in the business world. The Latina mama suffering from domestic abuse who quietly takes her kids to school on the L. The homeless man drinking beer so early in the day. Me. Lowly me. Probably looking uppity in my business-ish clothes, awkwardly making my way from La Villita.  This implodes any close-minded view of God we sometimes hang on to when we don’t let our eyes truly see the people we pass everyday. When we close our hearts and make God in our own image instead of the other way around.

 Today, and everday, I pray on my commute: Lord, Give me your eyes, that I may learn to love like You. Will you join me?




A quick two things

1. I forgot to include this yesterday: I was interviewed for an archdiocesan radio program concerning the Archdiocese’s “Year of Teens and Young Adults” back in August. This particular program was about the Amate House. If you for some reason want to hear the 30 min interview of me and two Amate alums, click here for the podcast and scroll down to 8/24.

      And here is the discussion guide they provided if youth groups wanted to used the radio program: Discussion_Guide_August_2011[1]. I just thought it was kinda cool 😉

2. A quote , from the daily Sojourners “Verse and Voice” email. It applied so perfectly to yesterday’s post, I just had to share!

“Do not think that saintliness comes from occupation; it depends rather on what one is. The kind of work we do does not make us holy, but we may make it holy.”
– Meister Eckhart

Ok, have a great rest of your Tuesday!

Where I work

Sorry for the hiatus!! You may remember my last post was about where I live.  So this one, is about where I work. I guess a hiatus was fitting though, in that I have one month of work under my belt to reflect on now!

First, the WHERE in “where I work.”

I work here:

You can see me lookin super tiny at the bottom to the center-right. The proportions look a bit off but this is the outside of the Quigley Center, the main office of the Archdiocese of Chicago

It’s a gorgeous old building, that used to be a seminary/high school but is now the Pastoral Center of the Archdiocese of Chicago. It has the most gorgeous chapel inside where I can attend Daily Mass during my lunch break. Serious, check out this stained glass!

This pic does little justice to the stained glass window in the back of the chapel (the reverse side of the circular patterned windows in the above pic)


And this isn’t located just anywhere. It’s located one block from Michigan Avenue, the central point in Chicago for all the upscale shopping you could ever want. I consider it the millionaire’s outlet mall. Also, right across from the Quigley Center… An indoor car dealership that sells, get this, Rolls Royce, Bentley, Lamborghini, and some other 6-figure brand of car. My jaw dropped the first time I realized that. Night and day from where I live. (More on this to come).

Which leads to the WORK part of Where I work.

I guess it’s not surprising that I wear business attire every day considering I work in downtown Chicago in this upscale district. That’s right, this Melissa, in heels (usually) and business attire (everyday). Kinda surprising, huh?!

I  bet you can see that my “service site” or job, is not what you’d consider your normal, “I’m- doing-a-volunteer-year”  placement. It’s much more administrative/analytical than direct-service. But I knew that going in. AND it’s still volunteer, still needed service, and still a mutually beneficial placement. All good things.

I work as a “Parish Tranformation Analyst” (yes, my housemates love to make me share my hoity-toity (sp?) sounding job title when we introduce ourselves to ppl) for the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Here’s a quick peek at what my site is/what my position is:

Description of Site: The Archdiocese of Chicago serves Chicagoland’s 2.3 million Catholics through 370+ parishes and 200+ schools.  The Pastoral Center of the Archdiocese serves these parishes and schools through a range of services and support (e.g., liturgical support; ministerial support; HR, real estate, & finance support).  The Parish Transformation group at the Pastoral Center is focused on working with parishes to help them renew their mission / vision and to achieve financial stability.

Description of Position: The experience of this position would provide the volunteer with a rich understanding of parish life and how to help parishes improve in the living out of their mission.  The volunteer would gain valuable experience in influencing skills—i.e., encouraging people of all backgrounds to make what may sometimes be difficult decisions.

This experience would also provide strong development opportunities for the volunteer in financial analysis, process management and implementation.  It would be a great opportunity for someone considering a future career in business or not-for-profit management.

It sounded like a great opportunity to combine my religion and econ majors (it has been!) and a great way to support parish life (also true!).  I believe that having a strong church community is so crucial to a healthy individual faith life, that I felt called to help in this way.  There were some other attractions to the job that will eventually be apparent as well 😉

But let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. I’ve spent most of this first month, spending a lot of time either 1. unsure of what to do next or 2. confused about how to do my task when I had one. I’ve learned soooo much about Excel that I never knew. The Vlookup function and Pivot Tables are my new specialties 😉

It’s also been incredibly humbling, being a new ’employee,’ with soo much to learn-about the diocese, about my department, about Excel, about what my job actually entails, about how to love well the people around me when my job is very computer- and business-oriented.

I’ve also been continually reminded, I don’t have the bigger picture. God has me here (in this particular job) for a reason, probably many, even when it’s not as apparent as I’d like. Even when the most interaction I’ve had all day with real live people is during a brief reprieve when I hear people pouring coffee and I go to join. I’m learning to be patient while finding myself working in a setting I never quite imagined for myself.  I’m trusting in His call to be in this place, at this time.  

Thanks for reading!

All for the glory of God,