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Eleventh Sunday After Pentecost

It was like a scene from a horror movie on that dark morning at the social service agency where I used to work. Everyone was silent and somber, with pain, venom and grief burning in the shadows of their eyes. A cloudy essence reigned free throughout the building, smelling oddly like smoke… What happened, you ask? Did someone die? Did we lose that major federal grant we had spent weeks working on, or have a donor back out on much-needed funds to feed our hundreds of needy clients? Did some cataclysm occur that numbered our days in the office? No, it was worse than all of that, far worse – the coffee pot in the breakroom was out of action…

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Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

(said through a megaphone) “Can I have your attention please.” “(ding, dong) doors closing” (siren noises) (yelling noises). What grabs your attention? Our city is filled with non-stop bombardment of our senses. In fact research has suggested that the brains of urban and rural dwellers operate differently. They say that the regions of the brain that regulate emotion and anxiety become over active in city-dwellers. They think it’s the more demanding and stressful environment for us city-dwellers that contributes to the increased risk of anxiety and mood disorders in urban settings. And it’s no wonder – almost everyone wants our attention…

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Enthusiastic crowd celebrates freedom fighters at Gammeltorv in Copenhagen on 5 May 1945. More images from The Museum of Danish Resistance: erez.natmus.dk/FHMbilleder/Site/index.jsp

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

“Crowds are a condition of urban life,” John Seabrook wrote in The New Yorker. He said, “in subways and sidewalks, in elevators and stores, we pass in and out of [crowds] in the course of a day… Crowds are often viewed as a necessary inconvenience of city living, but there are occasions when we gladly join them, pressing together at raves and rock concerts, at sporting events, victory parades, and big sales.” Being that it’s summer now in Chicago we find ourselves on crowded streets eating, listening to music, and drinking. Sporting events are crowded with fans, streets are crowded with traffic, and the new 606 trail is crowded with people. Our schedules become crowded. Our lives become filled with the necessary and unnecessary activities, plans, and conversations. Our brains, overloaded with information and our lives filled with those forgotten e-mails, friend, and meals. Our lives are crowded…

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