As campus settings go, Saint John’s University is as rural as I’ve ever seen. I-94 runs nearby and there is a small town within the distance of a good 10K jog, but for the most part the campus is surrounded by water, woods, farmland, and prairie grass. So imagine my surprise when along the rural entrance road I saw a side street with a sign that read 325th Street.
325th Street? If this was 325th, where the heck was 324th? I looked around and saw nothing but row crops anchoring one side of the road and unruly prairie grasses swaying on the other. 325th Street cut a narrow grey streak through all the green like a side crop of asphalt.
Of course all I could wonder besides “Where is 324th Street?” was “Where is 1st Street?” Where was the point of orientation from which 325th originated? Clearly it was somewhere far from the surrounding pastures and prairies and interstates and small towns.
Despite the obvious distance from its point of origin, I couldn’t help but realize how connected the street must be to some other place…and how even standing in the middle of the Minnesota countryside how connected I remain to Alabama, to Cullman, to Sacred Heart, and to the Sisters in my monastic community whom I miss so much.
Somehow, standing on 325th Street made the world seem a little smaller, a little more inter-connected. It was if I were standing at the intersection of 325th and Everywhere, somehow feeling right at home on a country road in rural Minnesota, which after all is only a few streets away from Convent Rd. in Cullman, Alabama.
Postscript: The liturgy also connects me with home, and at a far deeper level than my geographical imaginings. As I pray the Liturgy of the Hours and attend Eucharist with the monks of Saint John’s Abbey, I am aware of my Sisters back home who are also at prayer. We may be praying at different times, but nevertheless I am united to them in prayer and praise. Truly the liturgy places us not only at the intersection of time and eternity but at the intersection of heaven and earth as we gather as one Body, distant in time and space, but one in prayer and praise to God, the origin and destination of us all.