I woke early and headed to BWI courtesy of another early-rising friend, breezing through security with enough time to wander the terminal, browse the books, and do some reading. We boarded, the girl next to me giving advice on where to eat and what to see while in Boston. Up and back down nearly as quickly, flying over suburbs which, from high above, betrayed lingering signs of the ten feet of snow that had buried the city a few weeks before.
Walk, bus, subway, and up the stairs and out to the streets of Boston, oddly quiet for a Saturday. To the right stood the towering Celtics stadium; to the left, city streets of eating establishments and apartments. I wandered around the block and settled on a coffee shop. I purchased a small black coffee from a barista who seemed miffed at my choice and sat down to read as people came and went, conversations flowing past until early afternoon.
Marcus arrived, having won the battle against traffic, and we headed down the street to the Grand Canal, a wonderfully Irish pub. We caught up on life, discussing the various pains and joys we’ve both endured and celebrated over the past months, wondering about the journey we are on and where it might lead. He, studying at seminary; I, designing ductwork and plumbing - both of us earnestly concerned about what we might do with our lives, how we might impact this world for good.
“Cheers, thanks a million,” said the waitress in true Irish fashion, and we headed onwards. A drive, a prayer for God’s continued grace in our lives, and back on the streets I went, now at Park Street - bustling with lives in the midst of a bright and blustery day. I wandered the paths, wondering about this city and how it got that way and what the passers-by were pondering. The Steinway Piano store beckoned and I entered, sitting down at a $124,000 to play a simple song about a God who sees us, knows us, and loves us - through and through. Shall I not express my thankfulness on one of the very best pianos, the culmination of decades of thought and innovation? I shall, and a small part of my soul will grow lighter.
More wandering and finally Isaac’s arrival, later than expected due to a roommate’s clogged shower drain, which had required immediate attention. We caught up as well, discussing his graduate studies and my work as we wandered the Freedom Trail, taking in all the buildings and streets which once knew the names of men like Patrick Henry and Sam Adams. Cannoli from Mike’s Pastry, a delightfully crowded counter of all sorts of folks clamoring for dessert, and clam chowder at the Green Dragon, which bills itself as the Birthplace of the Revolution. The original building, sadly, is no more, but an enthralling idea nonetheless to eat in the same pub where the Sons of Liberty talked and planned and dreamed and birthed a nation.
Again on the T - another prayer and another goodbye - and then on a bench, waiting. Yunhe then appeared from a hotel, through which we doubled back to see his office building. Our walk became a meandering tour of MIT as dusk turned to nighttime, and the campus streets around the engineering department’s wind tunnel turned into a scene from a film noir. Finished now with walking, we left the city and headed to his apartment in the suburbs. Yunhe made dinner - shrimp and broccoli - quite delighted to host a guest. We ate and talked and finished the day.
Up the next morning, a large breakfast, and a long ride on the T from one end of the Red line to the other. Conversation about life and what matters, really? A girl sits next to me and I ask, "where are you headed?" She seems surprised by the question (who speaks to strangers on the subway?) and yet delighted, and shares that she’s on her way to church. The train stops, “happy Easter,” says she, and out she goes. A few more stops and we leave the train as well, up to a waiting car driven by Nola, a friend. To church we go to celebrate Easter - indeed, the original reason why I found myself in Boston was due to Yunhe’s request. Some text messages, confirmations, and a plane ticket later and the plans were set.
We enjoyed the service, a typical American protestant/non-denominational service as far as I understand, and afterward had many conversations with Yunhe’s friends. After meeting twenty people, many of whom were characters and wonderfully so, we were off. Down to the Red Line, nearly punched in the face by a man jealously guarding his backpack as he washed his face in the restroom, through the gates, and back on the train. We paused to wander Harvard, pondering the question of whether Jesus really raised a girl from the dead and what it says about who He may be. Can we believe that story? What about Jesus would give him the authority to call a dead person back to life? Can a person be spiritually or emotionally dead? Could Jesus raise that person to life?
We pass a gate with the Harvard logo, veritas emblazoned thereon. Veritas. Truth.
What is true? Does it matter?
Onwards we go, back to the airport. Another goodbye with much gratitude on my part - both of us, really. Another flight, another landing - back to Baltimore.
And I am thankful - for soul-conversations, for Steinway pianos, for Patrick Henry, for people, for life, for grace, for resurrection.