In those final weeks of my father's life, Dad and I reminisced about our father-daughter dance at my wedding reception.
That's when he said it, though not as a complaint. Just a passing sadness.
"I don't know why your mother would never say yes to dancing with me."
A couple months later, my father passed away, and my mother grieved. She replayed their life together in her mind -- all the trips and pastorates and friends and life events. She sighed and said, "I wish I had told your dad that I would dance with him. I don't know why I never did."
It doesn't happen every time I enter the church doors and genuflect. It happens after. After I've bowed before the altar. After I've quieted my spirit and shared a space of time with our Lord.
When I slip back into my seat -- that's when it happens. I can feel my own heart beating. My upper body moves slightly with each pulse. It's a gentle stirring in a quieted body. That's when I'm fully aware of my own heartbeat.
Last spring, I wanted a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. My web search yielded many images, including a few of the Infant of Prague. I made my decision on the Sacred Heart statue and placed the order, but I couldn't stop thinking about the Infant of Prague images.
Every now and then, my former Protestant bias resurfaces. It happened last spring as I studied the images of the Infant of Prague. I did not feel any affection for this devotion. Not a bit. I've learned to pause when I feel like this and try to go deeper. What was it about this image that bothered me?
On Jan. 14, I prayed for my newborn granddaughter in the chapel at Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center. I paused at the door to sign the guest register and write the name Eliana Noel in the prayer request space next to my name.
I knew that a pilgrimage was not supposed to be predictable. It's a journey, and journeys take on lives of their own.
My daughter and I began our day with Mass at our parish. I'm usually a morning person, but I couldn't shake my fatigue. Then I realized that I had taken my evening medicine (with its soporific side effect) instead of my allergy pill. Wrong medicine. Definitely the wrong medicine.
I labored through Mass, and we headed back home for some coffee before hitting the road for the Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows at Starkenburg, Mo.
The summer before my senior year of high school, my family moved from northern Iowa to the southwest corner of the state. I was angry with my parents for most of the following school year. And that wasn't my only attitude problem.
I was one of three new students at Manning High School. The other two were foreign exchange students from Kenya and Germany.
Manning had a tradition. Foreign exchange students were featured in the school paper, involved in every extracurricular activity and automatically on the homecoming and prom king/queen court.