Tuesday, July 30, 2013

On Pilgrimage - Tennessee to California - Driving

I had quite some time to think about and beat myself up about my mistake. I was selfish, no doubt, thinking that I should push myself and visit every place possible without even checking into the area. I should have let us relax and enjoy a few big moments together, but no, I just had to trudge on and now, we just want to can the entire trip. We are over-tired and under-stimulated. I have made it too difficult. So, Sunday and Monday, we chilled. And, a good time was had by all.

We had an awesome visit to Our Lady of Peace Shrine in Santa Clara. We met the Mother Superior of the sisters there and talked with a few of the people. The atmosphere was truly one of peace and joy and excitement for Jesus and the Saints and Our Lady. There were children everywhere and they were singing and playing and learning to make rosaries on this last day of a week long mission.

We moved on to San Francisco trying to get to the downtown Ferry area and get on a tour of the city. We were so excited but as minutes of driving turned into hours of waiting in downtown traffic, we lost our will to push on. (It didn't help that a team of men went by on bikes, completely naked. My girls were yelling to each other, "Just don't look! Just don't look!") We went round and round looking for parking and the correct pier and people were all over the place. We felt smothered and just had to venture on our own. We went to Alamo Park where the Full House intro shot was filmed and looked for the "Pretty Ladies" but couldn't figure out what was what. As we drove up the steep hills and rollercoastered back down, we could see all over the city from a different perspective. The houses were beautiful with all the intricate work on the outside framing and all the bright colors. We shared the excitement of going over the Golden Gate Bridge and back again. Then we made our exit, pointing and catching little glimpses of excitement along the way.

I decided to head on down to Carmel. I had heard it was amazing and wanted to check out Our Lady of Bethlehem at the Mission San Carlos Borromeo. We ooo-ed and aahhh-ed all the way, driving along the Pacific Ocean and arriving at the beautiful little hamlet. The doors to the Church were being locked and a large group was walking to their bus. We got out and walked around the courtyard but decided to get a hotel room and some dinner and come back the next day. Hahaha! We had no idea. As we drove around and found the area of hotels and shops and restaurants and the hundreds of people who obviously had made plans months in advance, we realized just what we had ventured in to. Wow! We looked around and around and around in every close by town and there were no rooms available. So, we ventured on toward L.A. I was really sorry to miss visiting Our Lady but I worked through the whole "not meant to be" as I drove and drove and drove through vineyards and more vineyards.

We started looking for a hotel before it turned dark but had no luck. Stop after stop the answer was always the same, "Sorry, no rooms." We were suddenly scared. What would we do? We were in Los Angeles with no place to stay. I was responsible for my two girls' safety. They had napped on the drive and were pretty much awake around midnight. They started looking on the smart phone for things to see and we ventured down Hollywood Blvd, Beverly Hills Blvd, etc. The place was hoppin' as the hours turned to early morning. We went back to Burbank and talked with a wonderful young man at a hotel who booked us a room for Sunday night and suggested we come early and try to check in. I parked for a little while at the hotel and looked up churches in the area and read while the girls slept. At 5:30 am I went to Church. The first Mass was at 7 but there were already some parishioners around as I parked. I grabbed my bag from the back and "freshened up" and then woke the girls around 6:30 and they did the same.  The Church was great and so were the people. Fr. started his homily by telling of his upcoming Pilgrimage following the Way of St. James to Santiago in Spain. He tied it to the Gospel in which Jesus teaches us to pray the Our Father. "It is really not about the Pilgrimage. It is not about me taking a journey through the mountains on foot. It is about walking with Jesus. It is about prayer and spending time with Him on our journey through this life." As he spoke I felt as though he was speaking directly to me. He was right. This pilgrimage that we are on, this journey to visit His Mother is just not about the journey at all. It is about walking together. It is about taking time with one another, enjoying the moment, relaxing in the simple things. It is not about the places at all. It's about the grace, the joy, the prayer. We were brought to this Church to hear this message and to receive Christ for our journey. We are so aware. We are so fortunate.

We left the Church and ventured directly into the best day of the entire trip. With a new found attitude and a new understanding of our journey together and a hotel room, we were refreshed and renewed. God is good!

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