By way of Chicago

My phone buzzed on our drive to the Pittsburgh airport. The flight to Philly was delayed, so we would miss our connecting flight to Portland.

We had two options that would still get us to Portland the same day – fly from Pittsburgh to Charlotte, South Carolina, or from Pittsburgh to Chicago.

To Portland.

By way of Chicago…

So I’m writing this post from the Chicago airport, half-way through a journey that began seven hours ago.

My dad would call that kind of travel going through my elbow to get to my knee.

It strikes me as funny that our journey from Erie to Portland would be such a cluster– given that my life journey from Erie to Portland has been even more of a cluster.

As many of you know, I returned to Pennsylvania this past weekend to attend my college homecoming at Gannon University, celebrating my 20 year reunion with former classmates and roommates. I toured around campus, marveling at the vast improvements made since the last century and reveling in the familiar scent of old carpet and sweat socks that seems to waft through every college dorm.

I’ve come a long way since those days, as some of the nuns I caught up with over the weekend reminded me when I sat down for lunch with them. They reminisced about my inability to make eye contact, my unwillingness to engage in a group conversation and that time I left a community event when I was handed a microphone and asked to introduce myself to the 70 plus nuns in the room.

We also reminisced about how hard I was searching for my place in this world. And how, after 20 years, I seem to have found at least a part of it.

I have found my mission, which in many ways is not so different from the mission of the Sisters of Saint Joseph who initiated a “Be Kind” campaign last year in a concerted effort to spread compassion.

But I certainly feel as though I’ve gotten to this place in my life by way of Chicago.

Most of our journeys are anything but linear, but I still think that’s what we often expect.

I think we often have a preconceived notion that if we are standing at point A – then point B must be just a short jump away. From high school to college – from college to a career. From dating to a committed relationship, from leaving an old career to finding a new one.

And while that leap might be a short one for some people, for many of us the journey is more scattered. The trip isn’t always as clear. And if I can squeeze a little more out of this metaphor as I wait for our plane to Portland, sometimes there are delays, sometimes you get stuck on the runway…

And sometimes, you get from Pittsburgh to Portland by way of Chicago.

And that’s ok.