I am writing this post white on the road on a business trip to Tennessee. This was a short-notice trip; I decided to take it last Saturday. I left on Wednesday night, and arrived at my destination on Thursday morning. That said, my travel itinerary is not the point of this post. I have wanted to write a post that includes the abdication of the now-Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, but have needed time to process.
Today, though, has been a blessing. I was done with my meetings in TN last night, and opted not to do an immediate red-eye. I stayed the night, ostensibly, just to go visit some of the big sights in country and bluegrass music. The thing that I really wanted to do was visit an old friend. When I was at Cal Poly, I lived in a house my senior year that was run by the Newman Center. I was one of four men and two women who lived in the house. Over the course of that year, they became like the brothers that I never had, and the sisters that I want my daughter to be. Two and a half years ago, I lost one of those brothers in a plane crash. It’s slightly ironic that I am writing this post in an airport terminal. One of the women is in a convent,with the Nashville Dominicans, and has recently taken her first vows. She is about halfway through her formation. My little sister, Katie, is now Sister Rose Miriam, O.P.. I visited her today on my way into Nashville.
It was a rather short visit; I arrived just before noon prayer and lunch. She met me in the chapel, which is absolutely gorgeous. It was dedicated in 2006 because the previous chapel was not big enough to house the entire community and guests at big Masses. I counted chairs for about 100 in the old chapel. Needless to say, they have a wonderful problem; the convent is filled to the brim. In fact, today, there was a retreat taking place for prospective vocations to the order; the priest-chaplain and I were the only men there. It was an odd feeling, but I digress. My friend was amazing. She was radiant with a serene joy. I know that may sound corny, but it is so very, very true. We chatted for about 10-15 minutes, and we shared where we were with our lives. I told her about how the Newman Center in San Luis Obispo is being remodeled. The kitchen is being dedicated to the memory of Mike Ross, our fallen brother. We both got misty eyed at his memory. She let me stay for noon prayers, which I was glad to. After the prayers, I caught the priest, and was able to go to Confession. That priest is a wonderful confessor and a true physician for a soul. My penance was one that I wish was given more often; to pray for my parish priest. As I walked out of the convent, my heart was full of the grace of seeing my “little sister” and going to Confession.
I did go to Music Row. I toured the Ryman Auditorium, one of the finest concert halls in America, and the “Mother Church” of country and bluegrass music. I had lunch at a pub, and a beer at Tootsie’s Bar, where many of the legends of country music got their start. It was about 2 pm and there was a live band. Absolutely wonderful. I’ll put up a photo of the Ryman, and of the convent chapel when I get home, if they look ok.
Regarding Benedict’s abdication, it was a blow emotionally, as I have respected the man as a theologian and priest long before he was elected to the See of Peter. I now have an understanding for his motive; I have no desire to entertain various conspiracy theories. I trust that his mind was guided by God to abdicate, and trust that the Holy Spirit will act through the College of Cardinals when the conclave begins next Tuesday. I have re-started my reading of Jesus of Nazareth, Volume 1 for the umpteenth time. This time, though, I am looking at his text with a new appreciation. Over the next two weeks, I will post a few choice quotations.
My flight boards soon, so I need to sign off. The next time I post, I will have my feet on the terra firma of California.