In 1673, two French guys canoed up the Illinois River toward the Great Lakes, eventually running into what would one day be called the Chicago River. Thus began the European settlement on the southwest corner of Lake Michigan that we now know as the great city of Chicago.
Today, it was our turn. While Marquette and Joliet had the help of members of various Native American tribes, we had David. David was our guide on the Chicago Architecture Foundation boat tour, barely able to contain himself with all the historical and architectural information he had to share. While we didn't spot any alligators, the tour was full of beautiful views of the city on this sunny day. These views included not only the massive skyscrapers but also the residential developments that have popped up along the river over the past 20 years. The river’s history since the time of those French explorers is full of human ignorance and manipulation, to the detriment of many Chicagoans. Just now are we beginning to learn to live alongside the river, appreciating it as a source of inspiration and serenity in the midst of the bustling city.
The river's lessons are many. May we continue to learn from our past, moving toward greater responsibility in our interaction with the earth and with the people in it. And may we always remain humble about our supposed knowledge, both in our science and in our theology.