Patient Update

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The journey up the hill in Cortona, Itlay to the snactuary of Santa Margherita

And speaking of journeys and gratitude, as in the main posting for today, I want to offer thanksgiving as well as thanks—-my aunt, my partner in crime, is now home from the hospital. Many of you may remember last week my request for prayers as Martha was having to undergo a very serious surgery to remove her left kidney. A mass had been detected within the left kidney. This had all come about very suddenly as there had been no symptoms…just the result of a routine visit to her doctor—which in turn set in motion a chain of sudden life altering events.

I am happy to report that the patient is indeed now home, hurting, but resting and recovering. The surgeon reports that it appears all that was bad is now gone and life should resume as normally as possible just as soon as the healing takes its course.

So on this Monday morning, I exhale a loud sigh of relief and offer my gratitude to you who offered prayers, words of support and strength for my aunt and my tiny family. May the healing begin so the new adventures may be plotted………..

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(Martha in Vienna, Austria 2012–Hotel König Von Ungarn)

Here’s to prayer , here’s to gratitude, here’s to Martha…..

Gratitude

“To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us – and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.
Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.”

― Thomas Merton
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Isn’t this a wonderful photograph? A beautiful flower shop in Vienna, Austria, in the shadows of Saint Stephansdom Cathedral–there in what is known as St Stephansplatz—the plaza area surrounding the ancient massive gothic marvel. It is a beautiful image in order to introduce today’s post on gratitude.

I took the photograph at the flower shop this same time last year during a most special trip that was the culmination of gratitude…it was based in having spent a life-time of doing a job that meant so much but had run its course. To celebrate an ending there was the trip, with dear companions sharing in the joy, of a new journey.

But before I ramble on too much longer, there is however, an issue I wish to address on a slightly more personal concept of gratitude as a bit of a side note— as I wish to thank Prasad over on hisinception.wordpress.com blog for nominating me for the Reader’s Appreciation award.
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And as one act of gratitude in turn should give way to another, I would like to pass this award on to Rita over on thebravetraveler.com— As I am a person who truly enjoys travel and all that entails, I have greatly enjoyed reading Rita’s blog of the bravetraverler. Rita’s stories are real life and practical. There is advice and wisdom for us all whether it’s a weekend adventure to the mountains or a trip of a life time across a vast ocean–there is comfort knowing you are not alone in your concern, angst, fear, dread, anticipation, joy, exhilaration and sheer sense of adventure.

Rita helps to make this bigger than life world a little friendlier and more manageable. Kudos to both Prasad and Rita for sharing themselves and their passions which in turn help to make us all a little wiser and a little happier. Gratitude.

I’m not good with these sorts of things as I certainly feel undeserving and rather eschew the attention. I did add an additional page on the About Me page to display those awards that have been bestowed upon this humble blog by some rather amazing bloggers, as I am truly appreciative. I am most grateful, I just tend to take the more quiet route regarding such….but there is indeed gratitude.

Now let me return to the true issue of today’s post—that being the concept of gratitude (not necessarily mine)—which is the ability of being thankful, a quality or feeling of thankfulness. The 13th century German theologian Meister Eckhart tells us that if the only prayer we were to ever say was “thank you”– then that would be enough.

It’s one of the first things we attempt to teach our children—that being the art of saying please and thank you. Here in the South one was always chided by ones’ grandmother if a thank-you note was not written and delivered within the said appropriate window of respectable time….I never really knew what that time frame really was but that I was to start writing immediately upon receiving said kindness, never allowing the dust to even settle.

Every young southern girl worth her salts had a set of note cards— along with a mother who would constantly inquire if the notes of thanks were written by the unknown magic time frame… be it for ones’ christmas gifts or the invitation to dinner by the parents of the boyfriend….If there was a gift or a kindness, there was a note of thanks expected to be written. Which does give way to an entirely different discussion on decorum but we will save that for another day Scarlet.

In the Christian faith there are a handful of types of prayer that are indicative to our faith. Prayers of supplication, adoration, intercession, petitions and of course, thanksgiving. As human beings, we tend to pray those intercession prayers fast and furious. The “please oh please” prayers…the “help, please help, I need you God” type of prayers, the “I desperately need you” prayers. Those are the types of prayer that usually top our list and sneak into our prayer time at the front of the line.

It is, however, the prayers of praise and thanksgiving that are truly more important than probably any other prayer we utter. God knows our needs before we even know our needs but the questions begs…does He know our gratitude? The answer being that since He is an omnipotent God, than yes, He knows all…. but hearing his children offering adoration and thankfulness—that is His music.

Don’t we, as parents, love and even yearn to hear our children offer us genuine thanks? Of course we shrug it all off as if we were simply doing our duty, but inwardly we glow as we now have confirmation that they, our children, really do care about the sacrifices and struggles we make or have taken in order to make certain that they, our children, are happy, ok, and more comfortable than ever we were ourselves. Ode to parenthood and of being a parent—a thankless job that does have it’s glowing moments.

So is God not our Father? He is not a parent who longs as well for the confirmation from the children He loves and adores? Any parent, worth being a parent, does what they do because they are a parent and it is the right thing to do by their children–regardless of thanks or praise. But when there is that small recognition, that little hug, that little uttered “thanks”, hearts then soar and with that magical warm feeling as “job well done” resonates deep within.

So on this new day to this new week, make the effort to express your gratitude….be it for a small kind gesture offered by a stranger, the small acts of subtle love given by a parent or child which are offered your way… or merely for the simple gift of just getting up and breathing freely each and every morning….there is gratitude to offer and express—

No matter how grim life may be, there is always a kindness which is offered–which in turn means there is always something in which to offer thanksgiving. Be grateful for this new day and for all of its possibilities.

The courage to continue….

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Winston Churchill

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Beautiful Stain Glass Rose window from Sainte Chapelle / Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2011

Merriam-Webster defines courage as: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty

Courage is not what we see depicted from Hollywood. Courage is not the professional athletes we laud over on the playing field. Courage is not physical prowess. Courage is not bravado. Courage is not belittling. Courage is not loud. Courage is not easy. Courage is not glamorous.

Courage is silence when others scream. Courage is for the tears shed alone. Courage is a smile when one is overcome by despair. Courage is going forward when others turn away. Courage is standing when sitting feels better. Courage is letting go when holding on is all one yearns to do. Courage teaches. Courage is quiet. Courage is lonely.

Courage is rooted in a mental decision to make a choice—it’s an either or with no time provided to weigh ones’ options. It’s a just do it mentality without the Nike swoosh. No glitz, no glamour, no pats on the back. It’s hard, difficult, dirty and even painful. But it’s the right thing–not the popular thing. It’s a moral thing not a trendy thing.

Our world needs more who are willing to act, to live, to choose courage.
It’s not easy, but it’s necessary.
Your choice.

Transition

“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
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The hauntingly beautiful sanctuary of Saint Sulpice, Paris, France / Julie Cook/ 2011

When I first took on this adventure of writing a blog several months ago, my life was in the midst of transition as I was navigating from a lifetime in the classroom to a new life sans my kids, my school, my 31 year routine….and so it was with that whole balancing of life, otherwise known as transition, that this little blog of cookiecrumbs was born.

One notion which has continually presented itself, as I have written and addressed a myriad of topics from my life’s adventure, is that of life’s balancing act. The seminal passing to and from one shade to the next, or simply put, transition. I had started all of this business thinking that transition was a singular momentary event..something that happened and then was, most thankfully, over.

I am one who likes my world steady, my ducks in their nice neat orderly rows, “my people” (family and friends) happy and content and perched where they normally perch on my tree of life….I can handle the transitions of life but that’s not to say they’ve not torn me up on the inside. It’s what people can’t see. My insides seem to rise to some invisible crescendo of nerves with the inevitable crashing down chorus…all hidden from observations but known only to me and my nervous system.

But who likes that sort business anyway?…no one I suppose. The one glaring epiphany I seem to have been enlightened by during the course of my little blog, is that life is but one big transition. It is as if we float throughout our lives form one transition to the next–never really stopping at any one spot for any particular length of time..be that a blessing or a curse.

I was struck by the image I chose for today’s post due in part based on an unspoken sense of determination and power which the image seems to invoke. At first glance the average viewer may not pick up on anything other than a dark image of what appears to be some church with someone walking up the aisle.

The average viewer most likely sees a dark, overwhelming and intimidating ancient interior of what must be the image to an unknown cathedral located who knows where. But fortunately you have me to tell you that this is the interior of the Cathedral of Saint Sulpice in Paris. A very ancient church indeed.

I visited this magnificent marvel of human ingenuity and deep spiritual thirst on a work day which equated to very little traffic to and within this cavernous Cathedral of the Rive Gauche. There is indeed something akin to transcendence when one enters such a vast solemn capacious sanctuary.

Sounds echo and are greatly amplified reverberating deep within one’s entire body. The air is cool yet heavy with the years of burnt incense and dust. The lighting terribly subdued– given this being an early Thursday Morning. There is an overwhelming sense of feeling “less than” and of being swallowed alive.

Intimidating….and yet inviting.
This space evokes a humbling sense of awe—that I am quite insignificant. It is a similar feeling that I have experienced when standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon or in the middle of the wilds of Alaska.

Witnessing this lone individual walking boldly forward towards the altar with such determination and purpose—no fear, no cowering, but rather walking towards an unseen entity which is obviously beckoning—the path of two entities on a direct course of collision meeting head on with a world altering impact.

Finally, the tie to transition. First there is a lone individual. There is also something unseen calling. There will be a collision. Two entities, one seen, one unseen, will collide. There will be a change in energy. I think science refers to the meeting of two bodies as… elastic and inelastic collisions— one producing no loss of kinetic energy and the other in which the kinetic energy is transformed into some other form. The transition of two energies.

It is this energy altering event that is the result of our seeking, walking towards and in turn meeting our Creator, our God. Our eyes cannot see the collision. But there is indeed a world altering impact.

This individual walked directly toward the great high altar, alone yet purposeful and determined. God was there. He was waiting. This person knew that God was there and waiting. The need to go forward was greater than the inevitable meeting and collision. The transition, then the change.

Nothing is ever the same.

Perspective

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Image of the Eiffel Tower / Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2011

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”
Helen Keller

Update on Martha: Soon to be making those big decisions–Which Glass ?!?

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We’ve waited all day for word. Surgery ran later than expected, but she’s finally out, in ICU and seems to be as ornery as ever—-probably more so than usual—here is to Martha, recovering rapidly and getting back to the big decisions of life— as in choosing which glass for which wine at De Florentijnen in Bruges, Belgium….

Thank you to all who have offered prayers and good wishes, for not only Martha, her surgery and recovery but for those who have offered me and my small family support and prayers…for those of you who have tiny families such as ours— you understand the importance of the greater community of “family”….prayers will continue these next few days of initial recovery and for rapid healing….Blessings and Peace

Hear my voice

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Image of the crucifix on the Charles Bridge in Prague, The Czech Republic. There has been a crucifix on this site of the bridge since the mid 1300’s.
(Julie Cook / 2012)

Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.
If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.

Psalm 130 NIV

****I am grateful for the prayers and supplication of the faithful who join me and my family in the lifting of prayer for my aunt on this day of such a serious surgery (see yesterday’s request)–I will provide an update as soon as the good word arrives. Grace and Peace—

Martha… my aunt, my partner in crime, and one who is in great need of your prayers

Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.”
― Mother Teresa

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Martha, pronounced Maaathha.
You must remember this is the South.
It was not until I was much older, did I finally realize that my aunt’s name was not spelled, as my mother had always pronounced it–Mothaa—like a moth with a pronounced “a” at the end but rather like the traditional spelling of m a r t h a.
She is my mother’s younger sister.
She and I are our only remaining links to that side of the family….
We are 20 years apart in age.
We have been through thick and thin…which I suppose started around the time the above picture was taken in what I believe to be 1963.

She lives in South Florida, where she’s been for the last 30 some odd years, but was born and raised in Atlanta. 27 years ago she and I dealt with my mother’s short lived illness and eventual death—we did so together. I never could have survived those dark days with Dad by myself. Three years following that, my grandmother, her mother, died after a sad lengthy battle with dementia. And lastly Martha, who had lived in a 30 year long marriage of emotional and mental abuse had had enough…

That eventually left just the two of us.

To do what you ask?
Travel of course….

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Wonderful Salzburg during Oktoberfest

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In front of the surreal world of Swarovski’s Crystal world in Wattens, Austria outside of Innsbruck

And so we have, for many years now all over this planet of ours, sought adventure. In part I think we go for my mom who never got to “go”– who lived a life, we have both come to discover and understand, was not the happy life we had assumed. We go to celebrate the lives of those lost and we go as wayward pilgrims on a necessary journey–most often of self discovery. And of course we go to eat…

As in the bowl of Bouillabaisse she had in Bruges….maybe not something to eat in Bruges…

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Or the zuppa in Florence at Il Latini—guests had a choice of one soup– since Martha couldn’t make up her mind, the waiter, who seemed smitten, brought her all three—this before the entree of Bisteca a la Florentine–that was the best pappa pomodoro we have ever tasted.

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But it has been the news from a week ago that has me reaching out to those of you who are inclined to Pray.

From a routine physical last week at her doctor’s office, blood was detected in her urine. She was feeling fine as she is never one to really get sick. She has joined her local Y and is now a svelte, lean mean fighting machine of an aunt…. so needless to say Martha was stunned when the doctor sent her for a myriad of tests consisting of an Ultra sound and CT scans.

This is when the mass was discovered.

Her left kidney has a very large mass, which appears to be totally contained within the kidney, thankfully. Surgery is scheduled for Thursday morning..as in tomorrow—October 17th. They will remove the entire kidney.

As my aunt reads this blog, I asked her if it was all right that I send out this “request” as I am now humbly asking those of you who pray, to please remember my aunt tomorrow morning. I also ask that you please include her daughter and granddaughter in your prayers as they, along with my small family here, nervously approach Thursday morning…and as Martha undergoes the removal of a kidney, I ask for your prayers of Peace…prayers for the doctors and the surgical staff, prayers for recovery, prayers for Grace and finally prayers of Gratitude…..

We jokingly wonder if this has anything to do with her current health scare as she is seen here following the Milanese tradition for luck of, umm, twisting one’s heel on the b@*ls of the bull in the famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II…perhaps the bull had had enough twisting….

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Here is to my aunt, my friend and my partner in crime—Prayers for good health, healing, Grace and Gratitude….and many more adventures…..

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Beauty and the beholders

“…as neere is Fancie to Beautie, as the pricke to the Rose, as the stalke to the rynde, as the earth to the roote.”
John Lyly (English dramatist 1588)

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Translating Mr. Lyly’s quote from above into a more understandable english, simply put, …”beauty is in the eye of the beholder” …

Did you ever watch the seasonal cartoon classic A Charlie Brown Christmas? It first aired in 1965. I was all of six years old. I would look forward to that special night all year, with the timing being shortly after Thanksgiving. I don’t know who was more excited about watching it, me or my dad. Dad is a big kid at heart and he loves cartoons.

Every year, on that special night, we’d race through dinner, having long finished any homework, bathes quickly taken, pajamas donned, all before propping up on the floor of the den with pillows in tow. Dad was right there with us, just as excited. It was the same way when The Grinch Who Stole Christmas aired. These are the happy memories from childhood which make me wistful for days gone by as I think about the same ritual which played out years later when my own son was a little boy. Some family traditions are indeed magical.

I love that cartoon to this day for several reasons.

There was the story within the story of Snoopy and the Red Baron..the WWI flying ace which all played to my blooming love of the history. Snoopy had swag before we knew what such was…he was slick and lovable all at the same time…an endearing instigator when it was most appropriate, like the time he planted a big wet kiss on Lucy, who always needed knocking down a notch or two. Was it any wonder why I declared that we would name our pet cat Snoopy?

I love / loved the solemn monolog reading by Linus of the King James translation of Luke 8:10-14…the lights dimmed with one spotlight shining upon Linus, his blanket wrapped around his head giving way to his appearance as one of the shepherds present on that most holy of nights…..“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.'”
“…That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

His words so respectful, articulated so clearly and confidently. Always seemingly so much older than his young character was ever portrayed to be. Maybe that’s why I’ve always liked those Peanuts cartoons as much as I have as the kids all possess an old soul persona—something I too was burdened with growing up.

But it was that tiny measly stick of a tree that Charlie Brown chose to be THE tree for the pagent that is most memorable. Maybe it’s because I too have a soft spot for the runt of the litter, the wallflower, the less than, the forgotten, the one never chosen–the one the others all shun and ignore.

Maybe it was because of Charlie Brown and of his choice of that little tree all those many years ago which prompted me to look beyond the glamour and the glitz of all those show pumpkins when I ventured out this year to gather the fall pumpkins. I opted for the “ugly” one.

I really like this whole craze we now seem to have for all things heirloom— as in heirloom tomatoes, heirloom apples—the original real deal of the fruit and vegetable world…species of such that harken back to “back in the day” when food was food and no one had ever heard of genetically engineered, hybrids, or altered foods. We didn’t go for the biggest and prettiest, we went for taste and use. But suddenly someone in the marketing world of food decided bigger was better and therefore we’d do what we could to make perfectly giant pretty food. Who does that? We do that’s who…sadly to say.

The irony of our tampering with Mother Nature has unexpectedly lead to a new skyrocketing micro industry in the food world—NONGMO…no growth hormones, all organic, no cloning, no antibiotics, no overt fertilizers, none of that science altering business, just good ol growing of not so perfect looking food—Thank God.

So when it came time for me to gather my pumpkins I walked past all those beautiful orange pumpkins. I wasn’t looking for the perfectly shaped beautifully hued orange jack-o-lantern…no sir-ree…I went for the forgotten little odd ball over in the corner of the hay bales. It was labeled, believe it or not, an “ugly pumpkin”.

Just like Charlie Brown, I proudly scooped up my little pumpkin / gourd looking thing, and proudly carried it to the register. The sales girl makes some snide remark over the intercom about needing a scan for the ugly pumpkin, making her opinion of my choice quite clear. I pay her for my prize and lovingly carry it to my car.

Once home, I give my special pumpkin a place of honor by the back door. The other pumpkins are out along the walk exposed to the elements and blasted fire ants—none of that for my special friend, he has a place of honor.

My husband comes home form work. I meet him at the door. “Oh my gosh, what have you bought? Could you have picked any uglier of a pumpkin?! What is that? Is it rotten? Is it even a pumpkin? How much did you pay for that thing?!” The litany of his negative barrage goes on and on….
No matter, I’m happy and proud of my pumpkin. It has character and it has class—a class all its own….

And that’s what it’s all about Charlie Brown!

Petitions, Grace and Gratitude

Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.
John Milton

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(Image: a statue to Saint Anthony in the small chapel of ST. BLASIUSKIRCHE , Salzburg, Austria / Julie Cook / 2012)

The deep groaning and creaking sound of the huge ancient wooden door being pulled open echoes loudly throughout the small yet cavernous chapel. It must be the vaulted ceiling helping to carry the sound deep into the hallowed room. The burning votives cast an otherworldly glow. There is a lingering scent of incense mixed with the musty dampness.

There is a lone figure, an older woman, kneeling at one of the front pews…her rosary woven through her fingers, moving ever so slightly, bead per bead as she silently makes her petitions before the small statue.
I once heard it put that religion was just something for old woman and children. Pity that…as that must mean that older woman and children are the only ones who “get it”…everyone else must be too vain, too prideful, too arrogant to truly understand.

My eyes begin to adjust to the lack of lighting as the cool air is a welcomed feeling against the late afternoon Autumn warmth outside. I walk slowly, quietly, reverently down the small aisle, my hand resting on the smooth wooden end cap of each pew, as I make my way to my seat of choice. I kneel slightly, the genuflection of reverence, before slipping into the pew.

I’m not Catholic but raised Anglican–I oddly welcome and greatly appreciate the nuances of ancient worship–more than would be expected from my raising. There is a deep mystery which I believe many in our mainstream churches miss. This Christianity of ours is an ancient faith but that is too sadly forgotten in this age of the technologically savvy mega church. The ancient components to worship lost on those now sitting in stadium type seating waiting, as if ready for the latest block buster to begin, to be wowed not by participation but by passive viewing.

Despite my pained attempts to muffle my movements, each step, each rustle of my jacket, causes deep reverberations through this ancient room, I feel very conspicuous even though just one other person is present. She never wavers from her intense focus to her prayerful conversation. She is oblivious to my presence.

I take in my surroundings before dropping to my knees. The chapel is hundreds of years old as worship here dates back to the 1200s. Dark wood paneling with cream colored walls. Arched vaults line the ceiling with stone columns systematically placed, acting as supports, creating the aisles throughout the room. This is not one of the beautifully bright and light Rococoesque churches of Austria that the tourists clammer to enter in order to view famous paintings, statues and frescos with ornate altars boasting a multitude of plaster cherubs heralding glad tidings. This chapel is small, dark, ancient and humble. Perhaps that is why I was drawn inside.

I slip down to my knees as I make the sign of the cross. I begin my “conversation”—it is one of thanksgiving and gratitude as a tremendous sense of warmth and contentment engulfs me. I then begin my petitions—not for myself, but for those I love who are not with me on this particular journey. After some time, I open my eyes. How long had I been praying? I rest in the moment as a tremendous sense of safety and peace washes over me–it is almost palpable.

Am I a tourist or a pilgrim? I like to think that when I travel, I am a pilgrim. I want to not merely observe, but rather, I want to partake…I want to be a part of each moment in time. I am not here to watch an old Austrian woman in prayer, watching from the shadows of an ancient chapel as some sort of voyeuristic individual or as someone viewing animals in an enclosure, but rather I want to pray beside her to the same God who hears each of our prayers. I am in communion with her even though she never glances my way. I want to appreciate this chapel that is a part of her daily life, wishing I too had such a special and reverent place of retreat.

The history here is so old as countless individuals previously have gathered here to worship, to seek, to lament, to rejoice. I slowly rise from my knees slipping out of the pew. I make my way to the small alter to pick up a fresh votive. I gently touch the fresh wick to one of the existing burning flames–my hand slightly shakes. I feel the warm heat against my cheeks rising from the candles. I place my lit votive in an empty slot silently thanking Saint Anthony and God for this time of communion with not only them but with this woman who never seems to notice my presence.

I am grateful. I slip a few coins into the small metal locked box by the door. I make my way back outside, into the light. It almost hurts my eyes as it is now so sunny and bright. The sounds of the throngs of people on the streets is almost painful to my ears. This is Oktoberfest, the streets and alleyways are teeming with a sea of people.

For a brief moment I had a glimpse of the Divine. I feel different for the encounter. Changed. Better. Not in an arrogant sort of way but more in the way that I have been fortunate to be privy to something so rich and so special. I look out at all of the throngs of people reveling in this historic and exciting city during this raucous time. I slightly smile inward thinking that I hold a special secret that no one else knows….no one other than that older woman back in the chapel and myself.