May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth. (Psalm 72:6)
Okay, I miss my good friend. After thinking through what I would post this time, I decided to recount a story from summer last year. You know, just to be honest with myself that I miss him. Embracing this feeling is a part of growing up as a healthy spiritual emotional person.
That afternoon after we dined, Julian and I executed a plan that we made earlier to bike all the way to Chicago. We lived in a suburb where train is the most comfortable transportation mode to reach the city. But not that day. Bikes were the vehicle we picked to tread 26.9 miles from Wheaton, Glenn Ellyn, Lombard, Villa Park, Elmhurst, Oak Park, and finally Chicago.
Neglecting the smart phone’s prediction on 50% chance of thunderstorm in the next few hours, we boosted our bikes with summer spirit: each day has enough trouble of its own. We traversed these three neighborhoods: White, Latin, and Black. At a glance, the self-boasted greatest nation in the world looked pretty much segregated confirming some news I had read in the time frame of the presidential campaign that was in process
Had just gotten back from Japan, Julian seemed like a reloaded gun. He shot me incessantly with thoughts about Christianity and cultures. From his western perspectives, he felt odd to find some Eastern Christianity expressions were emulating Western Christianity’s. Originally from the East, I could see his point. It was getting more absurd as I pondered on the slants of the East to be enthusiastically measured with Western standards; theology is not an exception. The East will never become the West, that was a freeing truth I discovered as I lived and studied in the West. There are values and cultural articulations in the East that don’t need to be westernized and vice versa.
Julian’s smart phone was indeed smart. The thunderstorm happened. We were biking in the rain fifteen minutes after we reached Chicago. We enjoyed the city with our unexpected friends: thunder and rain. There is no single day without wind in the windy city. Our trip to the next destination which was Ogilvie Transportation Center was a struggle filled with wind, rain, and thunder. But somehow, we made it! We raced to the male rest room, took our shirts off, and put them under the hand dryers. We just had had a profound fun bike ride!
Julian and I are like summer rain for each other. Just like summer rain, our cultural backgrounds give freshness to our friendship which we cherish.
I was one of the important people during Julian’s time in school. He uttered the thanks when we ran into each other several days after graduation. He planned on travelling to Europe this summer. I saw the same light in his eyes when he asked me if I was interested to go to Europe with him. That was the same light that I saw when we came up with the idea of biking all the way to Chicago, spring break in Wisconsin, and those hangout nights we spent together in Wheaton talking about students, politics, Christianity, cultures, sex, social justice, personal issues, and marriage. These talks very often wrapped up past midnight. I could not go with him to Europe. I wished I could.
Recently I happened to take a train from Chicago to Wheaton. Sitting by the window, I could see the prairie path we trod last year. I snapped some pictures of it. I pulled out my phone right away, attached the pictures, and wrote an email to my good friend, “Hey brother, I’m writing you on the train from Chicago-Wheaton. It is raining outside. I remember you and our summer last year biking all the way to the city. I can even see us biking on the prairie path from my seat now. I miss you, man!”