Sunday, September 30, 2012

Going Back and a Sabbath Rest

Have you ever gone back?  Gone back to a place that existed in your memory as a moment of self-definition?  This morning, I got to go back.  I got to go back and rather than being just an interesting and distant "remember when" as I totally expected, it was an intensely grace-filled morning where I once again KNEW that He is here.  He is working in my life.  Where the doubts of whether or not He could be interested or pleased with a nobody like me were wiped away by a few moments of just going back to that place where He spoke and worked and where I couldn't deny that it was happening.

      Once upon a time there was a twenty year old girl with an intense desire to know what the God of the universe wanted with her little life.  This twenty year old girl was asked one day in one of her university classes if she was interested in a summer internship.  Seeing that the girl had no real plans at home and Something was whispering "go," the girl trusted and went.  

So the summer of 2001 I spent in Littleton, Colorado at St. Frances Cabrini parish.  I was with four other Franciscan classmates (one's right here!  Go read her blog!).  We had one of the most freeing, fun, challenging, and validating summers ever.  It was so very good.  I came away from that summer changed and better.  I came away knowing without a doubt that God had a plan for me and that whatever WHATEVER it was, I wanted to do it.  To be honest, I don't even really remember a lot of the details of what the actual work was.  There was a marriage conference we helped plan and run, there was an apologetics course I helped write and edit, there was a vacation Bible school program facilitated, there was a whole lot of learning of the dynamics of parish work...and I know there must have been more.

What I remember more is the families we stayed with (the first ones who introduced me to the idea that people actually home schooled and they were not weird and unsocialized...these kids were awesome), the times alone with God, the bonds of friendship formed and the acceptance experienced.  I remember feeling lonely and loved, challenged and competent, opened and filled.  And I remember the people.  Our boss Tom, the families, the other interns, meeting Archbishop Chaput.  It's funny because I don't think at the time I was really knowing that all this was happening in just a few short months.  It was just one of those times that in retrospect was so planned by God and so needed by my soul.  And it was one of the many times that seeds were planted within my soul to bear good fruit at the proper time.  

So, anyway, enough waxing poetic, right?  We went to Mass at Cabrini and it was AWESOME.  They have a fabulous choir.  And Mass was celebrated by the newly ordained Fr. Brady.  His homily moved me to tears.  Twice.  He spoke about life and abortion (without once saying the word) and the contraceptive culture and mercy and grace and healing.  It was phenomenal.  A far cry from the dark room and biting hostile experience in Portland a week before.  And the boys were awesome.  Luke was charming some older folks behind us and making this elderly gentleman's day.  When I turned around for the Sign of Peace I saw that he had tears in his eyes.  It was so beautiful.

It's not a church with architecture that I would normally be drawn to.  At all.  But the Spirit still works (imagine that!) and oh, He is working greatly in this place.

Fr. Ken Leone (now monsignor) was the pastor when we were there.  A lively red faced energetic man that radiated love.  I remember learning that he would spend an hour each morning before the Blessed Sacrament in prayer.  THAT is a pastor.  He has since retired (which for most priests means that he is still celebrating Mass and working long hours and providing spiritual direction and aid.  But without the title to show for it ;)

A year after leaving this place, I was married.  How bout that?

The church

An area in the church that holds a special place in my heart.  I remember praying on my knees fervently for Mary to intercede for my siblings.  She has.

And much time spent in their perpetual Adoration chapel with the Lord back when.  Praise you, Jesus.  Huh.  Perpetual Adoration.  Super amazing active Spirit-filled parish.  Weird coincidence, right?

Random shot of a completely normal foyer.  But the whole place smelled the same.  You know when you go back to your elementary school and it has that smell that brings you right back?  That.  Except with its own smell.


After Mass we decided we needed a day of rest.  The plan was to eventually make it back to go swimming at the hotel pool.  But it was SO beautiful out we needed to spend some time outside.  We stopped at a park on the way home.

This park is right next to Columbine High School.  There was actually a parade about to begin when we were there. 



After enjoying the park (and really the weather was PERFECT...enough to make Brian say "hm, I think we could live here.") we headed back to the hotel to give Luke a nap and take advantage of the pool.  I was insistent that we needed to swim at least once on this trip.  Swimming = vacation, right?  Brian headed down with the boys while Luke slept and I had a blessed gift of an hour or so of quiet. 

I love that this boy has learned to swim on his own.  No lessons.  I have bad memories of childhood swimming lessons.

And this guy was doing great with his swimmies.

The water was warm enough that even I went in.  John Paul and I raced.

I'm being a fish.  Duh.

David being extremely obliging to my instruction that we need to finish all this food before the end of our trip.

In the hot tub

AH.  How can you not want to eat this child??

Time with Papa in the pool.  Don't you love holding babies in a pool?  They're so weightless and floaty.

Hotel pizza party!!  Since the day before was Michael's feast day and we spent much of it in the car, we told him he could choose dinner tonight (pretty much knowing he would choose pizza...).  Pizza and Dumbo.  Not sure what that has to do with archangels but it was fun and sometimes that's all you need. 

And there's our Sunday...only one more full day left!  



Saturday, September 29, 2012

Arches Park and Into Colorado


Another one of my favorite days of this trip!  
We left the campground early in order to stop at Arches National Park before heading back into Colorado.  Oh my.  Arches is amazing.  Incredible.  Breathtaking.  And so very fun.  And I really can't narrow down the pictures so here's another plethora of pics for your perusal...

Driving in

(Trying to find some new adjectives...)  
Absolutely gorgeous

This formation is called "The Gossips"

Balanced Rock from afar

Balanced Rock with me and three

Climbing

and climbing

and climbing

and climbing.  Can you see him up there?

I didn't realize when I got their clothes out in the morning that he would be camouflaged in that orange shirt :)

Building with the rocks

Ahem.  Dear eight year old, I may have to swap those glasses for a baseball cap from now on.  Apparently sunglasses bring out the cool in you.

Throw all the rocks!

One hole was "garbage" and one was "recycling."

The boys were in heaven.

 Trying to catch a lizard!

Got it!

He was green when we found him then turned brown.  So neat.

Proof that I existed on this trip

Lots of cacti growing!

Artistic, right?  No?  I try.

There are (get this) naturally formed arches all over the park.  We drove up to the "Windows" and decided to hike over to Double Arch.

How awesome!!  It's huge and amazing and we got right in.  (See how camouflaged he is?  So funny!)

When you start approaching your voice begins to echo all throughout.

Super fun to climb

Insisted on doing it all by himself

Husband doing precarious things with my baby

Baby getting quite the kick out of said precarious things

A student conservationist was super cool and spent some time explaining how all this beauty formed.  I totally thought it was mostly wind.  Turns out it was mostly sea water and rain.

The famous Delicate Arch from very far away.  We weren't up to the hike to get out there, though it would have been pretty sweet.

We ate our lunches (guess what it was!), stopped by the gift shop, and then headed out towards Denver.    The ride as expected was gorgeous and we drove through the foothills and mountains until evening.

And were greeted back to Denver by a beautiful full moon.

The next few nights will be spent in ONE place!  Woo-hoo!



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