Many years ago, I was walking through the Chicago Loop. I followed my general habit of looking in the store windows. Always curious, I enjoy seeing the activity inside the physical appointments of these stops. At one store front, 16 South Clark Street, the print on the window told of a Jewish Synagogue within.
Putting my face to the window and cupping my hands to my eyes to block out the brightness of the afternoon, I scanned the vestibule within. On a white wall, only ten feet from the window, large writings proclaimed the 10 Commandments of God. The Hebrew words and the English translation for each of the Commandments flowed out across the wall in shiny golden letters of exquisite workmanship. I felt as if I had come upon the treasures of the Kasbah. I slowly read the Commandments to myself, dwelling for a few moments on the meaning of each one.
“I am the Lord, Your God, thou shalt not have strange gods before Me. . . Keep holy the Sabbath Day.”
On the cold afternoon, a good feeling filled my being. I had come upon one of those peak experiences, a meeting with God, in the ordinary streets of the living present. Sometimes, in the nearby world famous Art Museum on Michigan Avenue, the curators exhibit a priceless jewel underneath a heavy glass cover. Just as I had admired the beauty of these jewels in times past, so, this day, my eyes studied these words of the Commandments and drank in their timelessness and wisdom.
At no other place in the Loop, could I have seen the Commandments of God so openly and exquisitely displayed. Within my heart, a fresh determination rose to keep these commands better than ever before. In a sudden flash of intuition, the pricelessness of these Commandments and the wisdom of keeping them carefully came home to me.
In the Old Testament, God says, referring to the Commandments, “Choose these, and you will choose life.” My trip downtown had led to much adventure.
Fr. George Mc Kenna