I don’t think anything makes me happier than a Pizza Tour of Chicago. Unlike much of the rest of the country that tries to emulate a specific type of pizza, almost every restaurant in the city has their own unique twist. From Stuffed to Deep Dish, and flat, it is nothing like you can get anywhere else, well, except for the places that try to copy it! When asked on my flight home eating the cold leftover Giordano’s Stuffed pizza which was my favorite, I could not really answer, since none of them are really comparable to the other.
I think that is what makes a pizza tour of Chicago so much fun is taking time to recognize the uniqueness of each type and appreciate the differences recognizing that whatever each pie lacked, there was something good in its place. Simply put, eating pizza this way for me is a religious experience, a celebration of God’s unique ability to take something so basic and make it special.
I think God does this with us. When looking at the ingredients that make up the individual human we can see that almost everything that makes us up is the same, but with tweaks and though few genetic changes we are all individual, unique and good in God’s eyes.
The fun part of doing this pizza tour as part of my reunion weekend was that when we gathered for the party, and reintroduced ourselves to each other, I could appreciate each unique journey. But it was interesting to see how so much of us grew up in the insane sameness of suburban life, yet we all landed in very different places in our lives, many of us surprising each other with our life choices.
But at the same time, it did not matter who made the most money, or had the most exotic job, I think there was a general happiness of just being together for a brief moment in that community once again. Granted, if we hung a lot out longer or, god-forbid, were forced back into high school together again, this utopian evening would turn very different, but saying that, it was interesting to see how most of us found our way to accentuate our gifts.
In my ministry one of the greatest points of witness has been to see where others shine. One of my greatest frustrations is to see where others live up to something that is not theirs. I saw this too at the reunion where there were those who did not have the job or life where they were happy, living to stay alive, not be alive. In other words, I saw the sadness of some who were living up to something that was not theirs, nor ever could be. Fortunately, this group was very small, but it showed a glimpse of why I like my pizza tour.
When we are true to ourselves, accepting our strengths we can be something exceptional, like Chicago pizza. When we try to be something we are not, we tend to fall flat. When we accept each other in our strengths we can be a grand example of community; when we only look at our weaknesses, we become forever depressed.
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen