A Reader’s Experience Staying at 533 W Diversey Parkway
By Clemens Trauzettel, Dresden, Germany
How would you imagine a visit to a place of "living history?" Did you ever think something like…"if walls could talk?" It would be too easy to say that the building at 533 W Diversey Parkway is such a place. And while the Urantia Revelation lives in the hearts of men and women, and a physical place cannot be an inner home like the place where the spirit meets our personal minds, still, there is something about this building.
What place on earth could have a comparable meaning to us, like the Isle of Paradise has for all the energy of the master universe? While the Revelators hoped for us to be “inside” the book, to share our inner life with God, still, in some way, this former house of the Sadler family has given birth to a way of life.
I have been reading The Urantia Book for about ten years, and I never really thought of the Foundation existing somewhere other than in my mind. However, one evening during the UAI conference this past July, I took a bus ride from that place in my mind to the beautiful art nouveau building at 533 W Diversey Parkway in Chicago. Imagine the flair of the situation I found myself in; meeting Urantians from 24 countries and learning of their personal life-approaches and their unique ways of dedication to what they see and do. The air of inspiration, the nights of exchange instead of sleep, the days of spirit-learning instead of the normal routine; this was a real “Whoopee” for me.
Now try to imagine whatI experienced when I entered the open house of Urantia Foundation. The Trustees were present. The building was slowly radiating out feelings of calmness and welcoming. The light from the walls reflected warmth from the wood and the items of the interior. How could one not enjoy this time and this place as an encapsulation of what has been accomplished until here and now?
On the second floor, people sat around the conference table. Little groups gathered on the balcony enjoying some sky above their heads along with conversation, people met in the kitchen, had conversations in the corridor, everywhere. Meanwhile, Tamara Strumfeld and Mike Wood were showing us the staff’s offices and the visiting room on the first floor.
The Urantia Book was on a table in the entrance hall. Carefully framed in light from the right and left, it was the center of the building and the mirror of life within it. In some way, it would be the first and the last thing you would see when returning to or leaving Urantia Foundation.
Dr. Sadler's wooden bookcases were beautiful and well-tended with hardcover and leather-bound books. His desk, seeming not quite so modern through the eyes of today, allowed us to imagine what it would have been like in the early 1900s.
After Techny, I spent an entire week at Urantia Foundation before traveling to Salt Lake City to attend The Urantia Book Fellowship’s conference. During my stay, I observed the staff at work and caught a glimpse of them performing the multiple tasks required to run such a unique foundation. I also visited the basement and saw all of the books in storage. Many interesting rooms had copies of books in a multitude of languages.
The study group on Tuesday evening had a neat vanguard of skillful cooks who prepared a welcoming dish for all the attendees. Many guests from the Techny Conference were present. An elegant conference table, shaped like an ellipsoid, with comfortable conference chairs is in the same room that the original Forum held its gatherings. It offers an ideal place for such meetings.
Guests stay on the second floor of the Foundation, which seems built to host any group or individual. Mike Wood contributed so much to our experience that we felt at home. He took us around town, showed us the evening silhouette of Chicago, and had us as guests at the Piano Bar in Maggianos.
Jacob Dix, also spending the week at Urantia Foundation, gifted me with the understanding that the work of receiving this revelation was hard. If we dive into the lives of those who came before us and how they produced the earth counterpart of our heavenly revelation, we can appreciate what we have.
There were also lessons learned. Bettina, the daughter of Tamara, taught me that American frogs make "Ribbit." I was perplexed because German frogs make "Quaak." There is life in 533 W Diversey Parkway, and it feels beautiful.
I hope to deepen many of the contacts and feelings I have experienced during my stay at Urantia Foundation. But even more, I hope that my own life's moving and static centers are not in any way excluded from the daily presence of spirit. I am grateful for this beautiful time.
Audio Urantia Book
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Urantia Foundation History