Pilgrim Dreaming

Don’t forget about me; I’m still here. I have been having some major issues the past couple of weeks: a collision of being laid low by illness, a mountain of student papers to grade, rising panic about writing my own papers, a thorough sense of being overwhelmed, and my mind and heart being anywhere but there.

The catastrophe is beginning to relent. I got through the first round of student papers last night. This morning I need to attack the second half, go back through both sets to clean them up and write proper comments, and then, hopefully, approach the paper of my own that has had me bound up for about a week.

This morning, I had thought I would stay at home and work all day, but I woke up before my alarm, in time to make early Mass, and I felt the nudge of the Holy Spirit that I should go. And it was such a salve to my soul. One of my commissae (it seems an appropriate enough word to coin: we having been sent together) commented this morning that I seemed “perkier” than I have been. I do feel a great relief. But I’m not out of the woods yet.

St. Peter's from the Tiber by féileacán

"St. Peter's from the Tiber" by féileacán (Flickr)

My heart has been yearning for Rome, more and more each day. There was so much the first time I was there that I didn’t see; so much that I didn’t experience because I wasn’t looking with open eyes. My first journey was the first steps of a pilgrimage; now that I am nearing the end of my entrée, I long to go again, to lay my head in the heart of the Mother Church and receive her blessings as a lost child coming home. I am to the point of actually planning my return. I have been pricing plane tickets for months, and researching hostels. I tacked up my map of Rome this morning. I’ve ordered a couple of travel guides for pilgrims, including this one I’m pretty excited about: A Catholic’s Guide to Rome: Discovering the Soul of the Eternal City. This morning I discovered this great wiki of the Churches of Rome. Tentatively, I am planning a trip for December 2012 or January 2013. Ticket costs will be at their nadir then, as well as the tides of tourism. I will start setting aside some money every month, and with any hope, I will be able to afford a truly grand pilgrimage. My mind is exploring all the possibilities of an unlimited train pass, and all the other saints whom I could honor: St. Francis in Assisi, St. Ambrose in Milan, St. Augustine in Pavia… O, come back, my heart! I have things yet to do here in the States!

Seeing the stars in the sky

NightfallIn the Isaac Asimov story “Nightfall,” the inhabitants of a planet that knows perpetual daylight, orbiting multiple suns, are overwhelmed the first time they witness a total eclipse, and see, for the first time, the multitude of stars in the sky.

Tonight I realized how many Catholic blogs there are out there.

I’ve never been one to follow blogs. It’s all I can do to keep up with my friends. I’m frequently stressed just trying to keep up with my own e-mail. Usually both my inbox and my feed reader have huge backlogs. And that induces a panicky feeling of drowning. I think it’s better for my mental health if I don’t try to follow any more blogs.

But… what about all the things I’m missing? What if there are things out there that would be valuable to me in my journey? What if there are fellow travelers on this road I’m on, invisible to me?

I’m not looking for readers. These writings are mostly for me. I don’t imagine what I have to say is particularly meaningful to anyone else. And I guess I’m okay with that. I am content to have a few friends and loved ones read and occasionally leave encouraging words.

I guess lately I’ve just been feeling overwhelmed in general. Catholicism is a huge sea to get lost in. But, I guess there are probably thousands of Baptist blogs out there, too.