Bahai News - Quiet, please Escaping life's everyday noise can be sound idea
Quiet, please Escaping life's everyday noise can be sound idea
The city is feeling too crowded-unending traffic jams, the construction sea
of new high rises, endless waves of festivalgoers attending outdoor
celebrations every weekend. Whew!
Does it ever feel like there's nowhere to go to slow down and get away
from all the urban stress and noise? Believe it or not, there are places
in and around the city where you can get away from it all places that offer
quiet time just to think, reflect, rejuvenate and relax. Wonderful places
to enjoy a little bit of quiet time.
Several branches of The Chicago Public Library have Reading Gardens-little
outdoor annexes that are great places to enjoy the fresh air while reading
a book, magazine or just relaxing. Library branches that have Reading
Gardens are: Galewood-Mont Clare Branch, 6969 W. Grand, (312-746-5032);
Logan Square Branch, 3255 W. Altgeld, (312-746-5259); North Austin Branch,
5724 W. North, (312-746-4233); Portage-Cragin Branch, 5108 W. Belmont,
(312-744-0152); Uptown Branch, 929 W. Buena, (312-744-8400); Douglass Branch,
3353 W. 13th, (312-747-3725); Hall Branch, 4801 S. Michigan, (312-747-2541);
Mount Greenwood Branch, 11010 S. Kedzie, (312-747-2805); Thurgood Marshall
Branch, 7506 S. Racine, (312-747-5927); Wrightwood-Ashburn Branch, 8530 S.
Kedzie, (312-747-2969) and Canaryville Branch, 642 W. 43rd St. (312-747-0644).
Libraries always offer quiet respites, and the Harold Washington Library
Center (400 S. State, 773-542-7279), is the crown jewel of the Chicago Public
Library system. And with its listening/viewing center and six music practice
rooms, the soul can be soothed by either playing your own musical instrument
or by listening to a CD from the library's extensive music collection.
"Gardens are a place to go to really allow the mind to be at ease and
think," says Beth Drews, co-director of marketing for the Chicago Botanic
Gardens, (1000 Lake Cook, Glencoe, 847-835-5440). "They are places of renewal
and restoration." The Botanic Gardens' newest garden, Spider Island, features
winding pathways that make you feel as though you have left urban life behind.
"This little area takes a while to get to and by the time you get
there you feel like you've gone miles. But, this is not in terms of
true distance, but in terms of how far you feel that you've escaped
from the outside world," says Drews.
A garden with a little less celebrity, but in existence since 1920, is
the Shakespeare Garden in Evanston (2222 N. Sheridan). Housed on Northwestern
University's campus, this formal English garden was created to honor the
Bard. Because this garden is not too well-known and can't be seen from
Sheridan Road, it can be seen as a secret garden-the ultimate oasis. Although
the university owns the land, the garden has always been tended to by the
Garden Club of Evanston. It includes the original Hawthorn hedges planted
in 1920 as well as roses and other flowers that would have been found during
the Shakespearean era.
The Shakespeare Garden is located just beyond Northwestern's Howe Chapel and
garden. There is a walkway on the east side of the chapel that leads to an
arbor of shrubs, which opens unto the garden.
"It is so nice to see people use the garden to relax, stop, and take a minute
to enjoy their surroundings," says Beth Schroeder, a member of the Evanston
Garden Club for more than 30 years.
"Often when I go to tend the garden, I see a man who has been
coming to the garden for years. He lives on the South Side, takes
public transportation to get to the garden, but still comes once-a-
week to sit, read and get away."
Among the tennis courts, running and biking paths and beaches, the
Chicago Parks Department also offers several perfect places to find
some quiet and solitude.
Off the Montrose exit of Lake Shore Drive is the newly renovated
Peace Garden. The garden features a waterfall that pools to a little
pond at the bottom and is surrounded by stone benches. The Peace
Garden is a few steps down from the lakefront path and the drive to
give the visitor a bit more solitude.
Many of the larger parks offer smaller more intimate areas. Within
Grant Park is the Cancer Survivor's Garden: A Celebration of Life
(located near Lake Shore Drive between Randolph and Monroe). The
mission of the garden is to celebrate life and give hope. The garden
features five garden "rooms" connected by walkways, and was
specifically designed to give the visitor an opportunity to reflect
on survival, and contemplate healing and understanding.
Grant Park also houses Spirit of Music Garden (Michigan and
Balbo). The garden begins with the Spirit of Music statue that offers
visitors the chance to sit at its base and read. The statue is also
known to cast a long shadow over the garden offering shady spots in
the grass to relax and take a moment from the hectic downtown scene.
Jackson Park (6401 S. Stony Island) contains the prairie-like Bob-
o-link Meadow, which is very secluded and truly makes you feel like
"you're in the middle of nowhere" while still in the heart of
Chicago. The meadow, surrounded by trees, is located across the
lagoon from the Osaka Garden, a Japanese stroll garden nestled on the
north end of the park. The origins of Osaka Garden date back more
than 100 years, and with its natural settings and harmonious beauty
it is a natural spot for some quiet time.
For more structured reflection and meditation settings, there is the
Baha'I House of Worship, (Sheridan Road and Linden Ave., Wilmette,
847-853-2300). Since it opened in 1953, the Baha'I House is a destination
for people of all faiths to come for prayer and meditation.
"People come here because they seek quiet serenity and the search
for what quiet brings," says Loreli McClure, public information
officer for the Baha'I House. The Baha'I house is open daily from 10
a.m. to 10 p.m. through Sept. 30, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Oct. 1
through April 30, 2002.
By their very nature, religious institutions offer quiet places to
think and reflect. But in addition to the formal chapels, many also
have outdoor quiet areas.
The Garth at Fourth Presbyterian Church (Michigan and Delaware, across
the street from the John Hancock building) is an enclosed space surrounded
by the church's buildings, where people come to enjoy one of the few green
spaces on the Mag Mile. People are welcome to sit on the grass and enjoy
the sounds that come from the fountain situated in the center of the
Next to the entrance of the Cathedral of St. James (at Wabash and
Huron) is a gate that opens in to a simple garden with two benches
that may be used for prayer or reflection. At the back of the
cathedral there is a labyrinth-an open space with a pattern in the
cement. Traditionally, the labyrinth, which symbolizes our journey on
earth, was followed while in prayer; today it is often used as an
opportunity to contemplate while walking in a rhythmic pattern.
The Art Institute of Chicago (111 S. Michigan, 312-443-3600) has
both a garden and gallery that are perfect for finding quiet time to
think and restore the creative juices.
The Ando Gallery, the final gallery encountered by visitors in a
walk through of the museum's East Asian Art collection, was designed
by the Japanese architect Tadao Ando to display the museum's
collection of Japanese folding screen paintings in a contemplative space.
In addition, the North Garden (North Stanley McCormick Memorial
Court) is designed as a shady, calm, enclosed space with sculptures
by Alexander Calder and Henry Moore. This spot serves as a locale for
meditative and creative thinking, even though it is just a few steps
from the hustle and bustle of Michigan Avenue.
The museum is open from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday,
Thursday and Friday; 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday and holidays. Suggested admission is
$6 for adults and $3 for students, seniors and children. Admission is
free on Tuesdays.
©Copyright 2001, Chicago Sun Times
Page last updated/revised 081401
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