Every once in a while there's a smell or a breeze or a sound, and the flashback happens. A memory returns
of something in your life long forgotten, maybe something that happened decades ago, and you're reliving a
moment in time which had been erased from your brain - so you thought. Is God the author of the
flashback? Sure. Every time I get together with my sister Virginia, which isn't often because we live far apart,
the conversation inevitably lends itself to recalling an event from our childhood. It's an amazing thing how
two people who had the very same experience can remember it so differently. We could get into an
argument over it if we wanted to, but we tend to laugh it off, each of us being absolutely certain that our
version is the accurate one and the other mistaken.
A lonesome memory came to mind while outside painting the back side of the house in the blazing hot sun.
The intense heat, being summertime in Florida after all, brought to the surface a flashback from a summer in
Chicago about 43 years ago. Inner cities have to be some of the most inhospitable places on earth in the
summer heat, Chicago being the champion of all. You couldn't walk on the pavement bare footed if your
intention was to retain your bottom layer of skin. No amount of fluid could satisfy your thirst in the sweltering
heat in this one summer. It drained every bit of your energy.
For the purposes of remaining in Chicago near to Moody Bible Institute, several of us guys rented a flat north
of the campus, keeping our jobs in the city and taking some summer school classes. It was a very different
experience from the regular school session, and that part we liked a lot. The flat was a second story one,
painted stark white, and with skinny windows which were difficult to budge. It was situated way too near the
"el" and the noise from the intermittent trains roaring by did nothing to enhance concentration on studies.
This "el' is Chicago's rapid transit train system. If you're an easterner you'll call it the subway. Chicago's had
106 miles of track. Much of it was elevated a couple of stories off the ground; the invasive noise coming in
from the suburbs to the downtown loop.
Back to the flat - it was not air conditioned. Had we not all been in our twenties I'm not sure how we would
have tolerated it. At night we slept with the windows open and would put our underwear on the radiator in
front of the window to dry. No laundry facilities of course. In the morning our underwear would be covered in
soot. Little difference the lack of amenities made on a few born-again guys excited about God in their lives
and loving being at MBI.
Somehow I managed to produce very good grades on my summer school report card, not as pathetic as was
my prior school year's results. The cheerful flat mate was Joe, and he was someone I had casually known
from my own dorm. I liked him. Bob, an upperclassman, was the quieter studious type, and the 4th person
wasn't one but many, bed #4 being a revolving situation whereby I never knew what body might be there
when I woke up in the morning. Let's face it, you had to be tough skinned to make it through the scalding hot
summer in the windy (like where was the breeze when you needed it?) city.
Youth. We got through it, and being good Moody boys, I doubt if we complained much, notwithstanding that
we were called by God to be there. Somehow there's a blessing for me in the sweltering days of summer. I
have this memory. It's very incomplete, but it's part of me. The singspirations in the Moody auditorium, the
walks down by the lakefront, the long dreamy conversations with other students about what our futures might
hold. The thing is, Moody students by the scores really have made a difference in the world. I'm so glad I
was a part of that, even if I remember but a tiny bit. As the song goes "God bless the school that DL Moody
founded". I wouldn't trade those miserable hot days for anything. I’ll tell you more sometime.
|The Summer Of Our Content