About 2 months ago we got the news that Dave would be going to Rome in September in connection with his work on the cause for canonization for Servant of God Julia Greeley. I was ecstatic for him, of course, and encouraged him to set other appointments and meetings and make the most of it by staying for a full week. One does not “weekend” in Europe from middle America, considering the 13+ hours of flight time to get there.
I felt a little sorry for myself, if only that I would miss out on a trip to our “second city” and that Dave would be catching up solo with all our old friends and coworkers, sipping espresso with Tonio and catching an appartivo with Alan, while I would be here holding down the fort at home, because our days of toting the whole family abroad are firmly in the rearview. One does not work for the Church and simply “take 5 kids to Italy” on 2 month’s notice.
But. We began to tentatively consider, could I possibly come too? Would anyone want to take a kid or two off our hands while we made a couple’s trip out of it? And at the beginning of the school year? Could I get some things done for work there? Was there a possibility of redeeming points for airline miles, of getting Zelie a passport in time, of coordinating all the moving parts of leaving 4 kids behind for 7 days?
The answer to all of the above proved to be a resounding: yes. I prayed and worried and second guessed and honestly felt a little sheepish because how many times can one family go to the Eternal City? It’s ridiculous. I know how ridiculous it looks and sounds. But after a few phone calls and one effortless passport appointment (at one of the 5 expedited passport offices that print onsite in the US – located in Denver), we were set.
So although my heart is grieving for the grave evil that has been unmasked within the Church during this “summer of shame,” it rejoices, because I love her still.
I love Rome. I love standing beneath the majesty of Bernini’s baldacchino and marveling at the splendor of St. Peter’s Square. I never feel more “at home” in the universal Church than when I’m inside the basilica, soaking in the mystery and grace of 2,000+ years of courage and sacrifice and love.
And while we absolutely, without a doubt do not deserve a trip like this, we’re choosing to see this ridiculous grace for what it is: God spoiling a couple of His undeserving children after a long, dry season.
We’ve joked together repeatedly over the past 6 months that 2018 has been our rebuilding year. Little did we know how much water that analogy would carry.
As we’ve adjusted to life with baby number 5 and settled into our new home, the stress of the previous 18 months slowly but surely started to dissipate. We started exercising again. Laughing again. Making time for nothing. I started going to therapy, both the physical and the emotional kind, while at the same time we trimmed back our expenses and got serious about our budget. I began praying in a way that was more personal and more intentional, edging closer and closer to a God whose apparent silence I had mistaken for indifference when in fact it was a severe mercy.
I look back at the previous year and some change of real estate disasters, at the 6 months we spent commuting an hour each way to school from our temporary digs at a friend’s home in a neighboring city, at a surprise pregnancy resulting in a surprisingly delightful baby, at financial worries that ended up being catalysts that nudged us further into God’s will, and I am humbled. Ashamed by my own failure to trust. Touched by God’s gentleness with me when He knew, as He always does, that I would fail. And so excited to introduce little Z to the cold stuff in the little paper cup that dreams are made of. (spoiler alert: she tried crema and cioccolato tonight and loved both).
If you want to follow along with our trip I’ll be checking in on Instagram under the hashtag #Zelitalia. I mentioned there that I’d be honored to take any prayer intentions along for the ride. We always make it a point to visit JPII in St. Peter’s one of the first days we arrive, and I will happily carry your intentions there with me tomorrow morning. Arrivederci!