We headed out of Florida early and straight North toward our evening lodging. We were all pretty exhausted so, when we got to Montgomery, home of the Civil Rights Memorial Center, and little man was out cold, I couldn't wake him. Not because Civil Rights are unimportant but because he is a misery when forced awake and too heavy to carry any distance. Just to say we were there, we stopped by Riverwalk Stadium, home of the Montgomery Biscuits (Class AA affiliate of the the Tampa Bay Rays).
|I jumped out of the car to snap this...two kids were sleeping by then. The little guy on the left is the "Biscuit" - so cute.|
|Giant bales of cotton|
I suggested the guest house to DH before our trip...fairly inexpensive and excellent proximity to the Shrine. He called (they don't do online booking...they like to get to know the people renting the rooms). He had a wonderful conversation with the woman who regretted that the "house" part was unavailable but would we be interested in the room downstairs? It had 3 beds and a couch and would fit all of us nicely. I was skeptical that, at the end of our long journey, we would really all want to be in the equivalent of someone's basement for the night. Then he told me it's referred to as "St. Bernadette's room". Ahem. Well, of course it would be the perfect ending to an amazing family trip.
It turned out to be just that, actually, because it allowed the Holy Spirit to enter even more deeply into our journey. We knew, logistically, we wouldn't be able to make it to the Nuns' Mass at 7 AM and waiting until the 10 AM would be too late. So, we opted for Vigil Mass, two towns over.
Cullman, Alabama. I'm not sure what it is about this place. Maybe it reminds me of the place where I grew up...
|Well, the street is similar but the church was nowhere near that big!|
|Terrible picture, beautiful church|
Then it was our turn. Of course the pastor recognized we were not "from here" and when we told him our story, he told us his. He retired as a Colonel in the United States Army and then began to study for the priesthood, ultimately Ordained in 2009. He is a Benedictine and studied at the Monastery of St. Vincent Archabbey...next to the school where we spend 20 Fridays a year. I love, love, love when the Holy Spirit makes the connections. It gives me that deep unspeakable joy (and it is a fantastic lesson for the little people!)
He gave us a wonderful blessing for travel and we headed two streets over to a wonderful Italian restaurant to fill our bellies as we discussed the end of the Year of Mercy. The night "bunking together" was better than I had expected and we rose to greet the day.
Of course we couldn't just skip out on the last official day so, dressed in our Sunday best, and headed up the road to close out the Jubilee Year with Adoration at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament 😍⛪.
I love this place and it scares me...but I'm working through it. This is the side where the regular people sit...can I brag a minute and say, when we were there Adoring in the 3rd pew, none other than
|Fr. Joseph Mary!!!|
Anyway, we sit on this side and behind the opaque windows is where the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration pray and sing sometimes (it is like being in Heaven). They are a cloistered order and when you are in the Shrine, you can walk past the enclosure. This is like my fear-of-heights-college-psych-prof putting her head out of a 100th story window. I guess, in my way, it's desensitization. I know there is some chance that God will call one of my girls to serve Him within a cloister and I need to be ready with my unequivocal "yes!". Every time I walk by that door, a slight amount of the panic goes away but I'm definitely still a work in progress!
The next morning we headed through Louisville and then home to reflect on our amazing journey! How blessed we were by the opportunity to share the people, places and God-sent lessons with one another during this trip. I am so very grateful.
We are blessed.