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  • Writer's pictureMartina

Des Plaines Truth

Oh, Chicago. What an interesting trip you were.

Following my previous update –after we had gotten settled into the hotel and everything– we were informed the next morning that we had to pack up and check out because we were going to be staying at the retreat house for the weekend.

Of course, my initial reaction was subdued outrage. Nobody had told me this was going to happen. In fact, all indications from previous conversations with the retreat coordinators led me to believe that we’d be at the hotel for the duration of our stay. We were already mostly unpacked and had made ourselves comfortable in the room, and I was sour about having to pack up and move again. Somebody was going to hear from me.

And somebody did. I let the head of the team know that it seemed really unprofessional to have people coming in from out of town and not even having the decency to tell them where they were staying or what their schedule was or who was going to be picking them up (all things I was upset about at the time). In retrospect, I realize I was being a big baby. Or maybe a diva is more accurate. I could have reacted better, but on the other hand, some of these things really did concern me and on a certain level, it was pretty unprofessional.

But on the other, other hand, I really was just being selfish about it. I didn’t want to leave the comfort and the ease and the privacy of where I was to go to where everybody else was staying. I chose to complain about my situation instead of remembering why I was even in Chicago in the first place –to serve.

Anyways, after voicing all that, we packed up and were shuttled over to the Cabrini Retreat Center in Des Plaines, Illinois (so yes, I realize I’m reusing a pun in the title, but how could I resist? The name of the city happened to be perfect). It was another one of those communal shower places, but at least I had my own room this time.

So, my apathy towards Chicago didn’t subside while I was there. Honestly, it was one of the tougher retreats I’ve been to, ever. People (at least the ones present) seemed a lot more cynical about things in general. I wouldn’t say they were mean, per se. They weren’t. I guess I’d characterize them more as difficult than anything else. Unpleasant? Maybe. I’ll say it like this: it’s hard to willingly serve people who are willfully ungrateful.

But that’s the catch, isn’t it? Service –especially in a Christian framework–doesn’t rely at all on the gratefulness of those being served. It takes place in spite of whatever attitude meets it. At least, it should. Sure, it’s nice to have people who are grateful –not to me in particular, I don’t mean that– I mean in an obtuse, general sense. It’s easier to deal with people who approach life with a positive and graceful attitude; who accept the shortcomings in others and are quick to forgive any perceived offense. I like working with those kinds of people.

But maybe I’m being too critical, myself. I mean, after all, this is the same group of people who –unprompted– took up a collection for the music ministry (my niece and myself). I was quite shocked and surprised when they presented it to me on Sunday. And I suppose, if I’m honest, it also made me come face to face with the fact that perhaps the only cynical heart in attendance was my own.

That’s enough of that introspection.

I had a special treat in Chicago, that I’m still pretty thrilled about: One of my very best friends lives in Indiana. We got acquainted online several years back but had never met face to face, but she made the effort and drove the 200+ miles to come see me while I was in the vicinity. I also had the privilege of meeting her boyfriend, who seems a nice, down to earth kind of guy.

It was easily one of the nicest things anyone had ever done for me. Granted, this is the same girl who wrote a book for me. She’s a great friend in general, and I’m glad we got to hang out, even if it was only for such a short time.

We got back home on Monday afternoon, and I was really very happy to be in Ft. Lauderdale again, where the traffic makes sense and I can drive myself around. We’ve got a week off until we’re back on the road again. The next stop will be the lovely Gulf town of Tampa, FL. I’m pretty happy I won’t have to leave my home state for the next retreat. I’m most happy that we’ll get to drive. I love a good road trip. The first years of my life were primarily spent in a car with my parents. My mom is a visiting home health nurse, and my dad has always driven her around wherever she needed to be. So when we were little babies, we’d be in the van with them. Work was a family affair with us, I guess. We rode everywhere with my parents. It was also, according to my parents, a quick drive around the block that was the surest way to get a cranky baby Martina to knock out and go to sleep, too. So, for those reasons, being on the road is in my blood.

For the rest of this week, I’ll be relaxing and also catching up on some things I haven’t been very diligent on. I’ll keep you updated on any shenanigans I find myself in.

Until then —

Carry On,


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