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?
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!