Friday, March 8, 2013

calling me to climb the mountain

"Now I'm just a pilgrim beginning the last part of his journey on earth."
--Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI

I saw a young boy trailing a pigeon around the coach station.
Coach stations are the armpits of the earth.
Like armpits, they're not appallingly disgusting, but they're rather unpleasant. And if they're well-kept they don't cause too much discomfort, but they're just not attractive. They, like armpits, are just rather functional. Kind of annoying, in need of constant upkeep, and just all-around underwhelming.
But useful, I guess.


I woke up this morning and panicked.
My alarm had been set for 5:30am, but it hadn't gone off.
I looked at the clock on my computer: 7:45am, it read.
I had to leave at 8:30 for my bus.
Had I packed?
Of course not. 
I will confess, the first word out of my mouth this morning was a rather colorful four-letter word.
Then, I remembered I had kept my computer on Roman time (why? I have no idea. Probably the same genetic strain of scorn at the arbitrariness of timetables that caused Grandpa Freeborough to refuse to abide by daylight savings time), and so it was actually 6:45.
I checked my phone (which is on London time) to be doubly sure.
6:45PM, it announced cheerfully. 
Mystery of the Stupid Phone Alarm=solved.
Case closed, Nancy Drew.


As much as I love traveling, sometimes it can be a slog.
Last Saturday, almost a week ago, I stood in la Parrocchia Santa Galla, on the outskirts of Rome. Admittedly, I was exhausted.
The last thing I wanted, I felt suddenly, was to return to this city. What I wanted to do was curl up in the arms of Waterloo Station, and stay there forever. I wondered why on earth I'd wanted to come here so dreadfully much in the first place. 
Then, the gentle words of the priest offering his final blessing interrupted my disheartened interior crisis:
"Remember why you are on this pilgrimage."

So I smiled, and I remembered.

I remembered standing in the hot sun with thousands of others during the final papal audience, receiving Benedict's final papal blessing.
I remembered attending the Italian daily Mass in the Basilica, with the sun streaming through the windows.
I remembered hugging my dear friend of the heart in St. Peter's Square at 8pm on Thursday, February 28th, as she said:
Here we are, in the arms of the Church.

Then, I laughed:
I loved to choose and see my path; but now, lead me on.

Quo Vadis is a bootless question.

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