Saturday, May 01, 2010

Back home!

The morning retreat at the Cathedral of St. Paul went well. I met Judy (hi, Judy!) at the hospitality after Mass, as we enjoyed banana bread and other treats that had been prepared by mothers of St. Paul priests. They take care of the food, and the Archconfraternity of St. Paul sponsors the monthly retreat at the National Shrine of St. Paul. Naturally, as a Daughter of St Paul, I was delighted to be there where even civic buildings and associations have names that sound so welcoming. And the Little Sisters of the Poor were also very welcoming (as was their big fluffy cat). (I am a cat person.)
Of course, actually getting to St Paul turned out to be the most challenging part of the retreat. Things didn't start out to auspiciously: the Orange Line to Midway arrived later than I anticipated, and then it was in slow zones almost the whole way. I made it to the baggage check-in within the 45-minute window, and then on to security. That's where I learned not to trust the "Expert Traveler" sign at Midway. This will lead you to a checkpoint that is all the way down another (invisible) hallway. The "Expert Travelers" ran the risk of missing their flights as they inched forward. I had been thinking about getting a little treat on my way to the gate, but there was no time for treats when I got there: boarding had begun. I found a seat (this was Southwest) and then the fun really began: the bumpiest ride this side of a roller coaster. Or maybe even more so. When we were ready to land at Minneapolis/St. Paul, suddenly we began climbing again. We circled the area for about an hour, rodeo-style, as if the plane were a bucking bronco. You could hear the luggage in the overhead bins slamming forward. I was never so grateful for the invention of seatbelts. The kids behind me (there was a little girl who was calling herself "Princess Sarah") were making the best of it. When we did land (an hour late), applause broke out all over the plane.
As we started to deplane, a young Jewish man a few seats ahead of me (he had been in front of me in the TSA line) turned with a smile. "Did you see the rainbow?" (All I could see was the wing. And dark clouds.) "I guess God decided to keep the covenant." He was referring not simply to the story of Noah, but to the Jewish blessing-prayer that is traditionally offered upon seeing a rainbow: Blessed are you, Eternal our God, Ruler of the universe, Who remembers the covenant, is faithful to the covenant and Who fulfills your Word." That prayer was already written into the notes for my talk! Another "coincidence" happened during the break this morning, I visited the history exhibit in the Cathedral vestibule. A mom was there with two children, one of them a little girl in pink who was, truth to tell, tired of looking at old books. "Sarah, calm down," the mother said. Sarah? "Excuse me, little girl," I said, "but are you the same Sarah who was on a very exciting plane ride yesterday?" She was!
Tomorrow looks like a full day, too: after choir practice and the choir Mass, I have tickets for the Opera "Giasone" by the Chicago Opera Theater. They gave it 4 stars! I hope I do, too!

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