Good morning! Yep, it is day two of life without the Pope and I miss the little guy. He shared so many thoughts on how to build a better society and be a better person. As I complete this post, I will share the paragraph that was most inspirational to me.
On to Sunday.....I had to arise early to get on the train again but the body was not willing. I guess standing for a long period of time on Saturday took a bit of a toll on the legs. But if a 78 year old man could do it, so can I.....
Unfortunately, the 78 year old man has more stamina, and I was late for the train. With that, Tink and I arrived around 11 am for the 4 pm mass on the Parkway. I had received an email from my volunteer captain to head for the Parkway to count pilgrims. Yep, a person who cannot count passed 11 without a calculator was going to count people at mass with one of the clickers.
First, we had to get through security.... and here is where my story begins and ends......
Running and limping from the train since we were late, we made it to one of the lines to get through security. Although I could not see the TSA officials (yep, TSA), I figured the wait would be like an airport line at rush hour. I could not have been more wrong....as a bus load of pilgrims cut into our line.
Then we waited....and did not move.....
I put on my distance glasses to try to locate the security check point. Even with the glasses, I was blocks away. So, we continued to wait.....and wait.....
We moved a few inches.....don't they know that I am supposed to count people? Oh, by the way, I have a ticket!
Fifteen minutes later, we moved another 6 inches....It seemed that we moved 6 inches every 15 minutes for 2 and 1/2 hours......
One block later, we are still in line with two blocks to go...crawling....legs are cramping....then the restaurant owners got smart. No one was in their establishments because we were stuck in line. So, the restaurants came to us. I was not hungry when I got into line but after three hours, the stomach began to whisper to me saying "your Kaski bar is not going to cut it.....look at that gorgeous hoagie with fresh mozzarella and tomato....roasted red pepper pesto...it is calling to us...."
Then I did it. I ordered the sandwich from line and had it delivered. Tink and I crawled a few more inches now equipped with our lunch and dinner......
After four hours, I started to jump in place because the legs were screaming.....the gel foam pads were useless....the feet were on fire....I am not complaining, just reporting facts.
Then I see it.....there are 4 airport security scanners for 200,000 of my closest friends. Four....that's right...four.....no wonder it took all day. Sheesh!
I could now see what the hold up was. The security folks were going through every bag and bag chair then allowing people to walk through the metal detectors. I watched in aghast as the two women (that's right, 2) pulled each bag chair out of its sleeve to examine it. Then they went through each cooler. I was afraid for my mozzarella and roasted red pepper pesto hoagie. Was she going to squish it looking for a weapon of mass destruction. Fear crept into my mind as I began to worry more about the fate of my hoagie than my feet.
Side bar: this is what happens when the blood pools in a person's legs and is no longer perfusing the brain. The individual starts to hallucinate about flattened hoagies and bag chair bombs.....
Then we finally got through. I did set off the security alarm with some underwire that I was wearing and had to be scanned with a wand. I saw a nun being scanned too, so I did not feel so violated.
Anyway, we made it through and I was going to wait for Betty and Scoob who were a half block behind us but I had tickets and was going to save them a space.
I ran to the corner and showed my ticket. The officer would not let me cross the street despite my ticket since the mass was beginning. And so, I stood under the flag of Sweden waiting to hear mass since I could not see it and had no idea where I was. I waited for Betty and Scoob but they never came. In fact, the police closed the security check points as they were about to pass through. They never got in!
The mass sounded nice. Although most of it was in Spanish. The jumbo trons had the mass on it with subtitles. I could not see those. So, I stood by a barrier listening to Spanish and not understanding a thing....despite having taken dos anos in escuela de espanol.....
After mass, I continued to look for Betty and Scoob who had disappeared, so I headed back to the train. Sad....I did not see mass...understand it.....or catch a glimpse of the Pope. In the week that I had spent in the city, I saw his right arm wave from his Fiat. That's it.
Was I sad? YES!
Was I peeved? YES!
But Pope Francis speaks of love and patience and kindness with compassion. Gotcha....I am being tested....thanks....
As we ran to the train, we waited as the cars began to fill.....luckily, we got a seat and as I sat, I went on the internet to read the Pope's homily. Yes, it was inspiring. Now, I should count my lucky stars that I was near the event.
Wearing our orange volunteer shirts did nothing for us during the day as we waiting in line with the rest of the hopefuls. Then I was tapped on the shoulder. A lady said to me: "Thank you for your service."
Huh? What did I do?
"Thank you for volunteering."
You're welcome. Did you see the Pope?
"Oh yes. We had great seats (grrrr........)."
What time did you get there.
"We were in line at 7 am and got through the screening right away. Although they took my apples and water."
Huh? My apples and water and hoagie made it through the screening process and were declared safe. Perhaps they got tired of throwing produce out by the time they got to me.
"Yes, and I told them that I was diabetic."
Feeling concerned, I asked her if she had enough to eat.
"Oh we were fine."
With that, I gave her my non threatening Red Delicious apples for her hotel room. Enjoy, they have been screened and cleared as a weapon. They pose no threat to you and your husband.
Then she said something that I had noticed and loved about the week...."I was so thrilled with the city. Can you believe in the time that I spent here, I never heard one curse word."
She was right. People were on their best behavior. Or, perhaps, this is the type of crowd that is attracted to the Pope. Anyway you look at it, it was a terrific week. People came together for a common purpose, to live their faith and to listen to the head of the church.
The way, I look at it is, the world was more peaceful and kind for one week. I liked it. I really liked it....
Then it was back to work Monday.....the day was long and I wanted to come home and sit and have a glass of wine to unwind and rejuvenate. This required a quick trip to the liquor store. As I stood in line, a common theme for the week, I spoke to the clerk and asked him if he saw the Pope.
Here is his reply:
"Yes, I did. First, I watched half of the Eagles game which started at one (what?). Then I left the house and got in line."
How long did it take you to get through?
"Forty five minutes."
WHAT!????? Where were you?
"Twelfth and Wood".
Crud! This was five blocks from our crammed security check point. Did you have a ticket?
"Oh yes. I was very close."
I wanted to shout, but held my angst back and considered a few things.
First, I was blessed to have had the experience.
Second, I learned new things like how to read a train schedule and pay for a train ticket.
Third, people are basically kind and good. It was a privilege to have served in such a way. Some day, if the Pope comes back, which he won't, I will have no qualms about doing it again.
Now, it is time for me to figure out what I am going to teach today......let's see......blank.....I am drawing a blank...
PS: Here is the paragraph that I plan to share with my family: "Faith opens a “window” to the presence and working of the Spirit. It
shows us that, like happiness, holiness is always tied to little
gestures. “Whoever gives you a cup of water in my name — a small gesture
— will not go unrewarded”, says Jesus (cf. Mk 9:41). These
little gestures are those we learn at home, in the family; they get lost
amid all the other things we do, yet they do make each day different.
They are the quiet things done by mothers and grandmothers, by fathers
and grandfathers, by children, by brothers. They are little signs of
tenderness, affection and compassion. Like the warm supper we look
forward to at night, the early lunch awaiting someone who gets up early
to go to work. Homely gestures. Like a blessing before we go to bed, or a
hug after we return from a hard day’s work. Love is shown by little
things, by attention to small daily signs which make us feel at home.
Faith grows when it is lived and shaped by love. That is why our
families, our homes, are true domestic churches. They are the right
place for faith to become life, and life grows in faith."