I blew off CL last night. That sounds harsher than it was, but I wanted to get it off my chest. I returned from Opening Day at Fenway Park just in time for the 7:30 p.m. meeting, and I didn’t go. Instead, I accepted an invitation that Katie didn’t really offer. She was having supper with a girlfriend and the girlfriend’s husband at their home. I visualized the open space at the table and decided to fill it, though I had eaten supper already.
Several remarkable things happened in the aftermath:
The supper was several ways a surprise and a delight. I arrived before the “girls” came in from their walk and began talking with the husband, a friend of mine, about some of my upcoming plans, including a truly quixotic idea I am thinking of pursuing after my return from the Camino. He not only didn’t think the idea was crazy. He offered to help.
Then when it was time to go home, I donned my Camino sun hat, which is truly Australian in scope. My friend laughed at me, and that was before I pulled the chin strap snug into place. Then I laughed and asked, “Am I becoming one of those goofy old men?”
My friend nodded: “I’m afraid you are.” Then we both laughed again.
This morning after Mass I spoke with my friend Elizabeth about last night’s CL meeting, the one I punted. She said that it was a little miracle, an all-female gathering that—she didn’t say this exactly, she is way too kind—would not have been the same with even one man in the room. This allowed me to imagine that whatever had prompted me to have supper with Katie and friends killed at least two birds with one stone.
I went to a meeting after Mass and ran into my brother-in-law, who offered additional help with my quixotic post-Camino brainstorm.
Then I went to my office to write the post that precedes this one. There, where the CL ladies had met last night, I found two gifts, both from CL friends. A member of our Beverly School of Community, Lorraine, had left me two hand-knitted prayer cloths—one in blue for me, one in purple for Marian—to carry with us on our pilgrimage.
The postman meanwhile had delivered a package from Renzo and Cristina, CL friends from Connecticut, longtime veterans of the Movement whom I have met at regional and national gatherings. In the package were two books, loaners, both large-format picture books about the Camino, one in French, the other in Italian.
Katie, Marian, and I will be traveling in Italy, France, and Spain. Marian is fluent in Spanish, so that part of our trek is covered. My college French, buttressed by studies in Paris, is still sturdy enough to get me through the French volume sent by Renzo and Cristina, and I have already dipped into it. The Italian book will at least give me a whiff of the one European language in which I will be otherwise lost. I can tell from the title that the Italian word for pilgrimage is pellegrinaggio. That’s a start.
I am reminded of the Doxology from my old days in the Episcopal Church: “Praise God from whom all blessings flow . . . ”