Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Arriving in Rome for the Church Up Close conference.

I left for Rome, Italy to attend the "Church Up Close" conference on Saturday, September 4th. I knew it wasn't a coincidence that I would arrive in Rome on my dear friend Mother Teresa's feast day (the 5th). I loved the fact that I would be staying close by to the MC sisters whom I had visited and spent some time with the year prior while I was in Rome. I'd for sure be visiting them. I pass their convent every time I walk to St. Peter's.

I had spoken with the Mother Teresa archivist who is an MC sister (located in Rome) a couple of days prior to my departure from the U. S. because I wanted to know if any special festivities were planned and if there was a Mass that I could possibly attend. She told me that there was a 7:00 PM Mass at the convent where she lives which is quite a distance away from where the MC sisters live near the Vatican which is close by to where I would be staying. The Mass sounded great. I would have plenty of time to get there and would be able to celebrate the special day with the sisters. God is so good, I thought and told  Sister S. during our phone conversation that I truly felt the hand of God in all of the details.

I didn't sleep on the night flight to Rome which was no surprise to me. I rarely catch even a few winks on those flights. I'll be the first to admit that I am not good at sleeping in a confined tight space with people all around, coupled with the aches and pains that come so easily to me from sitting much too long and because of injuries I sustained in a car accident a couple of years ago. I prayed I'd receive the grace to deal with the after affects.

I retrieved my luggage after I landed in Italy and headed out to find my driver who would be holding a sign "DONNA COOPER O'BOYLE." "Great, there he is!" I thought. Everything was going smoothly - just need a shower and something to eat eventually. Rest would be very welcome too! Off we went to head to my friend's apartment. I'd get the keys from the doorman because my friend was actually visiting the U. S. at the time that I would be in Rome. I'd settle in and a couple hours later would walk the 4 blocks or so to the MC sisters to let them know I had arrived. We'd  then hop the bus together to go over to the special feast day Mass for Mother Teresa. The sister who is the archivist had called ahead to the Mother Superior to arrange the details.

The only problem was that when I arrived at the apartment, I couldn't find the door man. Where was he? I had wondered about the fact that it was Sunday and maybe it was his day off. And, sure enough, it was! So, instead of going in to my friend's home, I was standing on the sidewalk with my large suitcase, which was beginning to appear larger by the moment, holding my laptop carrying case over one shoulder and my purse over the other and wracking my brain about how to get in touch with the doorman. I was exhausted. This wasn't supposed to happen. I called my friend by cell phone and left her a message, but didn't have a number to leave her since the driver whose cell phone I used to call her would be leaving me momentarily and I didn't have a European cell phone.

Since I had mentioned the sisters to the driver on the way from the airport, he decided he'd drop me off there because he had to leave to do another route. At least I wasn't being left on the sidewalk in Rome with all my stuff, feeling too exhausted to lug it all around in search of a bed for the night and without a phone to make any arrangements. I had been hoping for a shower, maybe some breakfast too. Even though I'd be dropped off at the sisters, it was much earlier than planned and I'd be showing up with all of this STUFF! It was embarrassing just thinking about how to explain my predicament to them. Probably because I was just so tired.

The driver dropped me off at the MC door and I got out and knocked. A woman opened the door and I tried to explain my dilemma. She was eyeing my HUGE suitcase (looked like I planned to stay for 10 days) and was telling me I couldn't stay.

"Oh, well, actually, Sister knows I'll be here to go to the Mass later on with a group of sisters. I have my stuff with me because I couldn't get the keys to where I am staying." My words seemed so feeble, and very poorly described my predicament. the woman called for the Mother Superior. I waited just inside the door, leaning up against the wall for support.

Sister Agnes came up to the door and saw my things and me. She proceeded to tell me that plans had changed and they wouldn't be going over to the 7:00 PM Mass. They would have already gone to Mass. Another blow - first, no key, now, no Mass. I felt a tiny tear well  up in my eye very quickly followed by a couple more. I hoped it wasn't visible to anyone. I was exhausted and felt a bit homeless - in a country where I didn't know the language and I wasn't sure what I was going to do at that point. Prayer, for sure, that was a given, I had been praying mightily. I'd hopefully be able to find a Mass at St. Peter's or some other church. I had been looking forward to Mass with the sisters for Mother Teresa's feast day though. And, please God a hotel with a vacancy. God had a plan. I had no doubt. I just had all that STUFF to worry about, a weary brain, and a very sore neck and back while figuring out what to do.

As tough as the situation seemed, I couldn't miss the beautiful picture of Mother Teresa hanging on the wall nearby that made me feel that she was almost laughing at me, or rather laughing with me - even asking me to laugh with her. She was reassuring me that all would be well - "trust in God, surrender your will" she seemed to be reminding me. "It doesn't seem convenient to be homeless, but here you are, not on the street - with my sisters on my feast day, at least for this moment..."

To be continued tomorrow, God willing. I am exhausted (jet-lag).

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