Being Catholic way out of town

God calls us to step outside our comfort zone sometimes, but this is ridiculous. Did I really need to cross 4 time zones, take three different flights and endure about 21 hours of airport time? Thy will be done, but really?

I’m in Juneau, Alaska at my sister’s house. She had been coaxing (which is a nice Catholic word to describe my baby sister nagging me relentlessly) us to come visit her for years. My wife and I finally used up our stock of polite Midwestern excuses, so here we are. The retreat doesn’t start until tonight. Today will be family bonding time disguised as sightseeing.

Speaking of sights, Juneau leaves no doubt that God is the ultimate landscape artist. Woof. Snow-covered mountains in the background with a glacier-fed river in the foreground and a small taste of ocean (the Inner Passage) in between. And, oh don’t forget the tidal marsh that borders their side yard, the ducks, the eagles, the clouds boiling over the mountaintops, and on and on and on. I can picture The Almighty sitting in this same kitchen chair, sipping locally-roasted coffee, looking out at this and saying, “It is good.”

Like both of the retreats I have attended before, I have mixed feelings about this one. I will definitely be the guy from out of town. Sister Katie has warned me that many members of her parish are a bit more “progressive” than I may be used to. I saw my brother-in-law Bill sneaking a mandolin into his pile of things for the weekend, for Pete’s sake! So I am feeling a bit alien already.

On the other hand, God is present here. The same God who visits with me in our living room back in Wisconsin. The same Jesus who is with me when Monsignor Healy performs the consecration. And the same Holy Spirit who fills me up with joy when I hold one of our grandchildren. And my home is wherever He lives. So I look forward to holding His hand, and walking another path with Him. And, from the looks of things so far, it will be very good.

More later.

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