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  • Writer's pictureJoe Cherry

What's the Pointe?

This morning I took a walk with a beloved friend to Lake Michigan. In the neighborhood where I live for now, there is an artificially created point into the Lake, known as “the point” locally. She and I have walked dozens of times to the point and back home again.

This was to be our final time.

We talked the whole way about Life and the questions and challenges it brings. It was a good conversation.

And then I stood at the edge of the breakwater for a while, alone. I watched a seagull gracefully floating along the water. I saw two little birds playing tag. I heard the waves crash against some rocks, and I looked at the water intake station, a mile out. And I began to cry.

In a class I took in seminary, I was introduced to the idea of God as the God of a certain place. That a place itself is sacred, because God was there. I believe that God is everywhere, but that doesn’t make this place, this City any less sacred to me because it shares God.

This is the place I came, or more accurately, ran away from home to, when I was 28. I have been here a long time. Here is where I became me. And I am tied to this place. To the Lake, to the neighborhood of Hyde Park.

I tried to soak up as much of the Lake as I could this morning. Deep breaths through my mouth to taste the moist air. Eyes, made blurry by tears, trying to memorize the glorious wonder and size of Lake Michigan.

It’s rare that we know we’re doing something for the last time. I tried to take advantage of it. As I was standing there at the edge of the water a single word entered my consciousness: exile.

Self-imposed and temporary, only 12 months, but exile none the less. Forced out of my home for academic training.

Every step on the way evoked memories. Here’s where Greg and I, young and in love, had a picnic. This is where I first met Wallace, and here’s where he died at age 94, almost 95, 8 years later. Here’s where I lived with Karen and Stephanie. Karen died 8 years go at age 33. Here is the church where I found my spiritual home and path. The very path that is leading me away, walking slowly in grief.

Before my friend and I left the Point, we met an African-American woman, no odd occurrence in Hyde Park, who was also leaving the Park. She commented on my friend’s sweatshirt and we got to talking. She’s not from here, but from Ohio. She’s here with her daughter, who is dealing with 4th stage breast cancer at the University Hospital.

Ministry calls.

We spoke for a while. Her daughter’s name is Carole. I said a silent prayer for Carole and her Mom, who never gave us her name.

As I had experienced during my chaplaincy, a person needing an ear to hear them is a gift to me. The Universe is saying “You can help this person, remember your purpose.”

And so, in a morning of grieving and thinking about all I am losing, it's a little reminder that I have a place in the world.

Even if that place isn’t the neighborhood I’ve come to love.

God is everywhere, and God is Love.

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Rev. Joe Cherry

Rev. Joe is a biracial, gay, Unitarian Universalist minister, and history nerd. He lives in North Easton, Massachusetts, with his husband, Rev. Denis Paul, and their dog, Toulouse.

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