Jul 17, 2008

My Travel Companions

I haven't had the chance to tell you a bit about the folks I'm travelling with. I'm with a group of women from Charis Ministries in Chicago--which runs retreats for young adults in Chicago and elsewhere. BustedHalo has been in a partnership with them for 8 years now and I'm really happy to be considered a friend of this ministry which is very close to my own heart.

Here's a little video or two of some of us:

Lauren Gaffey (in the Notre Dame hat) is a Charis employee who is leading the trip--no daunting task--is the only person that I had met and spoken with for any real length of time. We worked together a bit on the BustedHalo Pod Retreat which Charis "experimented" for us. She's been doing a great job despite the obsticles that inevitably get thrown in your path when leading a pilgrimage like this. Her number one rule for the group is simple: "Nobody can die."

So far so good.

Our other friends who I've gotten to know include:

Lexi (in the bar video, blowing a kiss at the end), a twenty something year old Creighton University graduate who has a real heart for singing. In fact, she sings everything--and warned me about that fact when we started hanging out on this journey. She's also someone who enjoys going out and spending time in the city that we've come to really like. Lauren, Lexi and I went to The Bourbon for happy hour last night while we awaited our friends who had been doing some additional sightseeing on our "off night."

Melissa (next to Lauren with the reddish hair) is someone I had met briefly at a Young Adult Conference in Chicago some time ago. We've spent some time hearing about her nieces--something that I love to talk about as well (my nieces, that is). We are bit closer in age to each other as Melissa is unbelievably in her 30s (flaterry will get you everywhere). Like me, she's been thankful for some of the one on one time she's gotten to spend with the folks here on the trip. Hopefully, we'll get to know each other better over the next few days.

Lori (with the camera in the video), also in her twenties, is straight out of my book as a millennial Catholic who gravitates toward the beauty of Catholic teaching. Yet, Lori is no "holy roller", she enjoys a clever retort, and since she said that in her opinion, our website BustedHalo talks about "useful situations of everyday life," she's launched herself into someone someone I'm convinced has impeccable judgment.

Brianna (with the WYD headband and tattoo) is Charis' development coordinator. We had a chance to sit and talk a few times the past week. She was asking me if I miss my wife and how tough was it to be apart. It has been hard, but we've been busy and they all have been keeping me laughing and on the go constantly so I've had less time to really think about how much I truly miss my wife and my dog--especially on nights when I mess up taking videos or when things don't go exactly well.

Ana (not pictured) is from El Salvador but now living in the U.S. I've been particularly touched by how much she's shared about her family in our evening reflection group (which I confess, I accidentally slept through tonight). She asks for prayers for her sister who has cancer. I'm always amazed at the people who struggle to be here at World Youth Day and at how much it means to them to just be in the presence of the Pope and to hear him talk in their native language. I think Anna was the first one to scream when Benedict spoke in Spanish today.

Chrissy (also in the bar video with the red jacket) is very sweet and kindhearted and had the line of the day yesterday when I quipped that the band we were listening to was very "disney-like." Without missing a beat, Chrissy replied, "You're right...they almost sound like the Chipmunks!" Never a truer statement was said.

There are a few others with us as well that I hope to get to know a bit more as the week goes on. But suffice it to say, this journey has been made all the lighter by the presence of these, and I'll use the word, not lightly here, HOLY WOMEN.

Let us pray that Mary, the mother of God, will continue to inspire us all on this pilgrimage and remind us of the goodness of God.

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