The Weekend, A World of Surprises

Moments of Joy and Surprises, a weekend in Chicago

The past three days have been celebrations upon celebration, topped with a joyous surprise.

Went to Chicago and the gold-star moments started:

Visited with John and Lydia Thomas, two beautiful friends. They live on the “south side,” which is okay, near the University of Chicago. Note on “south side” shortly. John and I developed a wonderful friendship during my Conference Ministry when he was our denomination’s General Minister and President. His ‘pastoral spirit’ helped me through my mother’s death and some of the [inevitable] challenges of working with other clergy. Sigh.

The reason I noted ‘south side’ is John and Lydia are supportive of the Chicago White Sox. That’s like, if this were football they’d root more for the Oakland Raiders than my beloved Broncos.

Now to the ‘north side.” Primary purpose for visiting Chicago was to celebrate my granddaughter’s 8th grade graduation. This August she’ll begin at New Trier High School, a terrific school. A couple of ‘foci moments.”

One, I was introduced to Laura’s new best friend, Percy. How lovely! This picture tells how beautiful both are:

The second ‘primary reason’ for visiting was to share wonderful time with Matthew. He’s finished with his high school teaching classes. On Saturday the three of us [we left Percy home, of course] went to the ‘north side’ team, my BELOVED CHICAGO CUBS. They won! During which John texted me to bewail his beloved White Sox, in miserable losses for most of the season, had just made 3 errors by the fifth inning. No, they weren’t playing each other! The Cubs hosted the Pittsburgh Pirates, and were not good hosts, beating the Pirates. [“Joanne Brown, did you note that?” She’s an unrepentant fan of the Pirates and the Steelers…I forget their professional hockey team, but I’m sure before this ink is dry she will remind me—wink!]

The picture is our evidence this narrative is not fiction. We had great seats and there’s no way I couldn’t eat peanuts during the game. Hey, some principles never should be compromised.

The entire Chicago visit Diane shared that Copper, our Yellow Lab, was not happy his Daddy was gone. He wouldn’t stay in our bedroom, but would stay in my home office, and more than often would go to the door into the garage, wondering when it would open. I got home this afternoon and it was a great reunion with all three of our “kids.” I was exhausted…important to know rooting for the Cubs takes energy—so after wrestling and jumping around, Mr. Copper and I had nap time:

Then, a “blow-me-away” moment when the routine became beyond special. I arrived in Austin, no luggage check, so walked to the area where parking lot bus shuttles waited. I could see my Parking Spot bus down about 4 buses. The driver saw me and waved. I considered that his simple greeting…another customer. Politeness is a good thing.

As I got close to him, he smiled, then said, “Did you catch any fish?”


I had forgotten his name was Mario Romo [the bail-out is I know how to read nametags.] Fish?

He said, “I remember you…you are our fishing customer. And I know you are a priest. So I ask, any fish?”

I explained my Chicago trip and smiled, “Mario, you are incredible. HOW did you remember me?”

He only smiled and opened his hands.

As I left, he put my bag and backpack by my car. He smiled like there was no tomorrow. A joyous moment. I said a blessing to him and touched his forehead. He made the sign of the cross.

Well, for Mario, and for me, and for John and Lydia, and for Matthew and Lydia and Percy, and for the Cubs, and for Diane and Jason and Copper and Faith and Caleb and for me, there WILL be a tomorrow. Yes!

Just HAD to have a final word…because I believe fervently affirmation is absent too often. As I came to the exit station I asked for the supervisor. He was unavailable, so I told Catherine, the cashier, “Please tell your supervisor that Mario Romo was my driver. Tell your supervisor, Mario is, in the very least on a 1-10, a 12.

She didn’t smile; she beamed, “So rare to hear good things in our routine world. I will convey your thoughts. Mario is one of our best…our very best.”


About Mark H Miller

Diane and I live in Leander, Texas. This past June 17, 2015 I celebrated the 49th anniversary of my ordination. We returned to Texas after three years in Washington, during which I served as interim minister in Bellevue/Eastgate and Mercer Island. Am planning to begin a 5th novel that will have my protagonist, Tricia Gleason, serve a year in licensed ministry in Snoqualmie, Washington. The novel, "The Lemon Drop Didn't Melt," will find Tricia wrestling with ministry challenges. None of which more daunting than someone wanting her breathing to stop. All the published novels are available on Amazon and Amazon Kindle under Mark Henry Miller. A primary goal in our return to Texas is to make sure grandchildren get lots of attention--here and in Chicago and Washington, D.C. Traveling is definitely an activity that will not slow down. With that, of course, fishing will happen. To that the t-shirt is apt, "I fish; therefore I am." In addition to novels, the book of Blogs, "Voice Of My Heart," is also available on Amazon.
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