There’s something about Milwaukee.
Maybe it’s all the Big Things that happened to me there–learning to cook, making amazing friends, “discerning my call to ordained ministry” (as they say), falling in love. The five years I lived in that city were very good years, and maybe that would have been true in any city, and I would now be writing a love letter to Minneapolis or Seattle or Wilmington, Delaware (you never know).
But I don’t think so. As I drove east on Wells Street Sunday after worship and fellowship at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, I found myself growing misty-eyed. I love you, Milwaukee, and I am not ashamed to say it.
What a gift to be back in that beloved city. I got to worship at St. Paul’s, a congregation that nurtured and shaped me. I got to stay with two great friends. I got to reconnect with my internship supervisor and some of the other folks at that congregation, Capitol Drive Lutheran Church. And I got to show off Zoe in the process!
It was a joyful visit, but a melancholy one, too, as trips down memory lane so often are. So, how fortuitous that when I opened up my eagerly awaited library book, Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, the epigraph included this quote from In Search of Lost Time:
Poets claim that we recapture for a moment the self that we were long ago when we enter some house or garden in which we used to live in our youth. But these are most hazardous pilgrimages, which end as often in disappointment as in success. It is in ourselves that we should rather seek to find those fixed places, contemporaneous with different years.
I don’t want to argue with Proust (who would?), but I think these “hazardous pilgrimages” are worth the risk. I did recapture my Milwaukee self, but I also experienced my Milwaukee memories in a new way: as the parent of a very busy two-year-old. So worship was mostly overheard through the cry room speakers, and instead of a Lakefront Brewery tour I ate supper at 5:30 (which is no different than what I do just about every night, no matter where I am).
Take care, Milwaukee, until my next hazardous pilgrimage to you.