I have so much to tell all of you about our adventures en route to World Youth Day that even after spending three weeks “processing,” I find that I still don’t know where to begin.
First, I will say this: our God is so faithful that anytime we offer Him some very small thing with a generous heart, He responds with a tremendous outpouring of blessings that more than make up for whatever it was we sacrificed. This, for me, was the great lesson of our pilgrimage. I can admit that I was not exactly a happy camper sleeping on the rock-hard, freezing-cold floor of that church hall two nights in a row – nor was I pleased to wake up after each of those sleepless nights and find that coffee would not be part of our frugal “pilgrim’s breakfast.” And yet – now all I can think about are the ways God blessed my time in London. It was like that everywhere we went: a little discomfort, a few sacrifices, learning how to “do without” and not complain… and then WHAM! A shower of unexpected blessings. God is so, so good.
That being said, here is a very abbreviated narrative of our pilgrimage to London, Córdoba, Rome, and Madrid. How we were able to see so much of those cities in just two weeks is still beyond me!
Highlights of our two days in London:
- Learning about the School of Evangelisation at St. Patrick’s Church in Soho. Sounds like an awesome opportunity for young adults interested in being formed as missionary-evangelists!
- Meeting up with the Franciscan friar-priest who was my spiritual director during my mission year. We hadn’t seen each other since the last time I visited the mission (February 2010)! What a gift!
- Exploring the National Gallery, where we were able to admire dozens and dozens of pieces of breathtaking religious art. (That experience might merit its own post!)
- Being pleasantly surprised by the delicious-ness of the pub fare at The Sherlock Holmes Public House and Restaurant: fish and chips, bangers and mash, mushy peas, sticky toffee pudding… and, of course, an ice-cold pint of Guinness on tap!
- Strolling through the gorgeous flora at Green Park on our way to see Buckingham Palace.
- Eating lunch in Hyde Park on a gorgeous sunny day (a rarity in London).
- Recounting the story of the martyrdom of St. Thomas More as we stood before the Tower of London.
- Learning how to say the phrase “Mind the gap between the train and the platform” in a perfect (or near-perfect) British accent.
London was, in a word: delightful.
Stay tuned for Parts Two, Three, and Four!