Have you seen this guy?

He’s called “Looking Up” and is a 33.3-foot-tall stainless steel sculpture installed along Chicago’s lakefront path near 48th Street. It’s pretty striking and caught me by surprise the first time I drove by.

It also stuck with me. Maybe because I tend to look up a lot. In fact, with a roll of their eyes, our kids would probably confirm that I very often remind them to “always look up” when they’re visiting somewhere historic or new to them, as the ceilings themselves are often as impressive as the art or the past events or stories with which they share their space.

And then as I kept driving I started to think maybe I liked that piece because I felt it could be me on any given day. Looking up to catch a couple minutes of warm sun (carefully, with sunscreen). Looking up to see if bad weather’s on the way. Or, honestly, those days when I look up, shake my head, turn up my palms and think: “So what was that??? Now what???”

So I went back to get a closer look. Those of you who know me well will find it ironic that, up close, I realized I’d found myself drawn to a work of art that had tons of crushed aluminum foil, roasting pans and baking tins as its original materials. Funny.

Irony aside, standing next to this piece is pretty powerful. The view of the city to the north is impressive. As is Lake Michigan stretching east as far as the eye can see. And it should go without saying that it makes one feel very small.

But it was when I tilted my head back and looked straight up as he does that I really got the attraction. Why “Looking Up” matters sometimes. Beautiful blue sky, a few clouds, a single shiny airplane and then a “moment.” Clarity? Perspective maybe? You know what I’m talking about, right? When you’re gently reminded that you’re part of something way bigger than you; that our world really is filled with goodness and light and that sometimes you really just need to stop, be still, take a moment, look up and say: “Oh wow. Thank you, God!”

Kathy Wennerstrum

October 15, 2017