Closing up shop
- Wednesday, Aug. 02, 2006

It may be time for a change
- Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Entry in the air
- Friday, April 21, 2006

Still here
- Thursday, April 20, 2006

Music of the moment
- Wednesday, March 1, 2006



101 in 1001
American Road Trip, 1998


Dancing Brave
Fugging It Up
Kitty Sandwich
Mister Zero
Sideways Rain


My crew
Our host

1999-01-12 - 01:26:02

Grotto warmth

I need the Grotto right now, as I think of a friend in sad times. That peaceful solitude among others as I sit on a bench, legs stretched out and crossed, arms folded and I stare, looking into the glowing aura of what sometimes seems to be Mary herself � No, not just a spotlight from behind the icon, but a sense of Her, a sense of Being, hers and my own. Whatever that may be, there is a purpose, and at times my existence, the life around me throws so much. I handle it, as much of it as I can, and I feel I�m doing a fine job, then I am reminded (by something I read, something I see, something I hear � this time, certainly something I heard) that I have it so easy. It�s all been easy for me, this whole life I�ve loved so much coming this far that I can�t wait to continue, each new day bringing the pleasant surprises and perks that make me smile when I lie down to bed at night and recall the day�s events (Oh, Dan, I�ve been meaning to tell you, my friend Lisel thinks you�re cute.). Another smile.

But I need to be there now, sitting on a spot-lit bench in the crowded South Bend night, there by myself, the murmur of city life, of the cars passing on U.S. 31 but seeming so much farther away than they are, where I can turn and nearly see the lights streaking through the trees. I need that place right now, not a picture of it but the whole sense of being there, the feeling of warmth and serenity that can overcome you when you turn down the stairs and look at those already there, sitting on the benches, their faces illuminated by the candle warmth and partially visible as they sit at a 60 degree angle to you, gazing off into their own worlds of heartache, heartbreak, tragedy and sadness. It�s not all melancholy there, though, because that Grotto can bring you out of it, lifting you up to a level where whatever it is that has brought you down there is removed, or maybe pushed aside for a while. You look at those candles, flickering in the inevitable South Bend wind (the sound of the water fountain�s continuous gurgling if you�re there in the warm season, giving the impression of water trickling down the rocks (imported from France) that make up the shrine) and dwell on the tragedy that brought you there, that made you stop studying (because you couldn�t concentrate anyway) or turn off the TV or go out at 1 a.m. even though you were so tired you could�ve slept on the floor, or even right there on that bench, no matter how cold. You think of it, of what it�s done to you, then to those most immediately affected by it, those closest to you � Or sometimes it�s someone else that�s suffered, and you�re worried for them. So you sit there, thinking of them and agonize, worry, wondering what they�ll do, how they�ll cope, can they survive? And back your thoughts go, replaying the events in slow-motion-fast-start-stop-jump to another point in time, further back, and then to when it all started. And then how did that start? How did they meet, how did you know them, where was it that happened? And it is here that the magic of the Grotto takes over, transporting you away to someplace so much better than where you are � Because you begin to think of other things, of those good times with those people � Remember that time you spent the day driving all over the county just because someone had recently gotten her license to drive and then you finished up with a trip to the beach in November and a romp on the lawn while others jumped on the trampoline. It�s a pleasant memory you find, somewhere hidden in all your experiences and maybe you haven�t thought of it in so long. But this has brought you back. There you are, those golden autumn days of high school, or wherever it was that the good things happened.

The Grotto has done that. It has helped, because it conveys the warmth, and warmth goes with the good times � not with today. As you rattle through the memories, picking up details that had been tucked away for longer than you thought you knew, you progress again, from thinking back to the beginning of something to replaying what has happened between then and now, moving forward again in a highlight reel of that part of you, of them, of your life. Little things change, for the better, but never big enough to change the feeling or significance of each moment. Then you catch up with the present, you have entered college, gone the separate ways from your high school clan, and you�re back sitting there on that bench looking at flickering candles beyond the kneeling, praying classmates and others who make up your community. �

But it doesn�t stop there, as you might think. The memories rush right up to Now, and you can�t stop (not that you necessarily want to) so you continue on, into the future, not knowing what it holds, but that�s the great thing. You don�t need to know because now this is your imagination, and what you say goes � So you think forward, replaying events that have not happened yet. Setting the scene, staging the events so they work out for you. Certainly it won�t be all perfect pleasantries as you�re imagining at that moment, but the good thoughts of the future give you hope, the chance of knowing that this could happen, things will stay this wonderful forever. You�re thinking of good times that haven�t happened, and probably won�t happen nearly as accurately as you�ve imagined. But you�ve planted a seed, and thought of the good times to come, and that will be useful the next time you walk down the path, around old Corby Hall and see the candles flickering through the trees in the clearing where everyone is silent, except for an occassional whisper. Because you know it can happen, something will, and the next time you are sitting on that bench in the winter cold or summer haze needing to be there, you�ll start to remember back to the beginning of it all, then to the good times that have happened in the meantime.

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