Part of the joy of sabbatical time is the opportunity to network with people who are leaders in your area. I have tried to balance my interests – pastoral theology; housing and care for older people; Church life and the spiritual journey and my main focus – the academic study of ageing. I am keen to want to evaluate the work of the Leveson Centre and explore ways of developing its life and engagement (for more information see www.levesoncentre.org.uk)
And so into the city today to a medical school to meet the Director of the Beulher Centre. This is the key picture on their publicity which I think is great!
I catch the commuter train into the centre of the city and decide (with plenty of time to spare) to get myself up to the North Shore part of the city. So to up North Michigan Avenue along what is called the Golden Mile. I can see why – the towering skyscrapers overshadow the road on either side – it is almost impossible to look down – the eye is drawn upwards to these feats of engineering and architectural skill. Crowds are walking to work – take away coffee and cell (mobile to you and me) phones are the accessory necessary for the day!
The Beulher Centre is on the sixth floor of a tower block and the Director’s office has the best view in the world over the vast lake – the horizon stretches for miles and the bright sun throws up greens and blues from the water.
As always I am given a warm welcome. Dr Linda Emanuel – the Director and Dr Celia Berdes – the Director of research are passionate about quality ageing and we share reflections on old age care, social and political issues, research interests especially in the area if the spiritual and pastoral. We discuss books and key influences and they are enthusiastic about my research into narrative and memoir. As always they are generous about suggesting links and themes and other relevant areas of study.
This is an impressive group of academics keen to want to put their work into practice. I am left feeling how much more the Leveson Centre could do with additional resources and convinced more than ever that the area of age is the subject for our times. A bold assertion with its roots deep in nearly ten years work in this area.
I wander back with my head full of thoughts and escape into a Thai restaurant for a solo plate of Chicken ginger. I try not to spill the sauce down my neat jacket but fail – only to be rescued by an old Jewish woman who rubs me down with a smile. ‘You boys’ she smiles ‘cant do without your mothers’. True – very true – I reply. ‘An Englishman’ she exclaims ‘ I wouldn’t have thought of you Brits making a mess!’ How easy it is to become best friends here – in seconds!
Another find of the Sabbatical – iced tea. Surely that should be on the Old Hall Menu??