Friends, thanks for being patient over the past week while I was offline and vacationing with family. For those of you who don’t know me well, let me share that I am first and foremost a mom. My sons have grown up far too quickly, so when I have a chance to have all four of our family members together in one place at one time, it feels like a private victory. All too soon (in the end of September) I will be an “empty nester” when my youngest goes off to college at the University of Oregon and my eldest starts his Senior year at Harvard.
For the past week, the four of us had time together in New York City, where Eric is a summer intern doing something financial I can neither explain nor understand. I love visiting New York — the sounds, sights, and sensations are a continual throbbing in the City. But I also discovered a few things on this trip.
Despite the fact that the city is the hub of all information, I felt less “connected” to what was happening in the world around me. Case in point: World Youth Day. Had I been home, I likely would have been glued to the Internet watching everything that was happening in Rio. In New York, I had very little sense of the events of the day with respect to Church issues. Sure, walk around Times Square and scrolling marquees will alert you to the latest headlines, but the constant sense of motion in the city made me feel like people there were less “screen oriented” than I tend to be at home. That could just be a tourist’s perspective though…
Silence is golden, and sometimes difficult to find in NYC. Even when we were out strolling the streets at 3:45 am one day, there was still plenty of action in the “city that never sleeps”. At that hour, we saw (and of course heard) construction, watched two film shoots and were even able to buy food from street cart vendors. On Friday evening at around 6:00 pm we found ourselves in Greenwich Village and I took some time to slip into Our Lady of Pompeii Church. Outside, the streets were teeming with people gathering for dinner and drinks or commuters getting off work. The noise level was a constant cacophony of honks and yelling, so much so that I think I’d stopped noticing it. When I slipped into this amazing church, there were two people in the front — a couple, praying the Rosary aloud. From the back of the church, I could barely hear them and the silence in that sanctuary was so stunning that I felt like I could literally hear my ears ringing. I love visiting churches anywhere, but in New York City I realized how precious these street front retreats can be for people who deal with so much bustle in their lives. I also realized that there is a reason that I tend to work in utter silence at home.
Getting outside the Catholic bubble I live in for a bit also made me realize how critical parish life is for the average Catholic or seeker. When I unplugged for a few days, I realized that most people get their information about Catholic happenings from two sources: the mainstream media and their parishes. At the Sunday Mass I attended, there was not a single mention of World Youth Day. The only news I heard of it during my “unplugged” phase was from the network news I watched and the USA today that was slipped under my door at the hotel. This reminded me that I need to do a better job as a parish webmaster of placing needed news and information in front of the eyes of our parishioners where they are. I also need to not assume that my friends and loved ones are as “tuned in” to Church happenings as I am — it’s up to me to share important tidbits in a way that is helpful, but never overwhelming or obnoxious.
The week off was good for my soul but bad for my blogging and email account. Please bear with me over the next few days as I get caught up. I’ll be sharing lots here, but will also be filming my television show today and traveling to the Midwest Catholic Family Conference this weekend. If you live in or around Wichita, I hope to see you there.