Hello to all the people we met on our tours! I have been thinking of each of you, and little stories from the time we spent with you keep popping into my head and they make me laugh! I wish I could start getting in touch with y'all.
Life on tour can be tough. You spend hours in stuffy airports, cramped on planes, stiff in rental cars, groggy for early morning retreats and flights, exhausted for late night drives... feeling unhealthy for eating fast food late at night, longing for a home-cooked meal as you stop at the tenth Panera or Ruby Tuesdays. But then you arrive at your destination and the bright smile of your host greets you. You settle on some stranger's home, not feeling strange at all, but secure and wanted. They give you chocolates on your pillow, show you the shower that you have been aching for, give you cold medicine as you sniffle sadly, invite you to Dante reading groups and give you tea. You sit with them and learn about their bishop, their priests, their parish. Your eyes are opened to so many different ways of serving the Lord and answering His call for laborers in His vineyard.
Life on Tour can feel like a hit-and run. We arrive one day, stay for the night, give a retreat or perform that day, and then leave the next morning. We come in to a situation where you don't know us, and we don't know you. And yet everywhere we experience Christ's words in action: "Feed the hungry. Give drink to the thirsty. Clothe the naked. Shelter the homeless." Talking about clothe the naked, I really must tell one story. So we arrive in OH to 13 degree weather, an inch of ice, and one hundred feet of snow, from Florida, sunny and 85 (slight exaggeration on the snow, perhaps, but none on the FL description). And I realize that I am in no way prepared for such cold. I brought a sweatshirt, yes, but what are so few fibers against so much snow and wind? Solution? Our hostess goes to her closet, pulls out a brand new winter jacket and insists that I borrow it. Fearing the loss of a few digits to frostbite, I eagerly accept the sky-blue down jacket. I wear it for the next week, then, on our way to the airport from Steubenville, we pull over to a post office. I march in, remove the jacket and ask the clerks what the best way to mail it is. Quite a stir followed, and much laughter. Who walks into a PO and wants to mail the coat that they are wearing? Well, those-who-want-to-return-a-coat-because-they-were-so-foolish-as-not-to-bring-their-own do, that's who. There are so many stories like that from our tours. The generosity shown to us wherever we went taught me a good many lessons. So, are tours really hit-and-runs? Sure we spend little time with our hosts, and little time with the kids we perform for, but I have learned that we are all one in the Church. We are all present in front of the Tabernacle, unified by our common goal. We may never see anyone we perform for again, but we have formed a bond that will never be broken.
So, my thoughts and prayers go out to all of you! Thank you for your kindness to us, thank you for labouring in His vineyard, for staying in the place you are put to work with the souls we can only touch for a day and an evening! God reward you!