Hoofprints of the Stag

Hoofprints of the Stag

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Day 43 and Beyond: Leaving Rome

I have to sadly admit that this blog post is long overdue, but I have gotten separate requests from three people, despite the fact the fact that I have been back in the states for a month now.

I get to sing here!
Let's see, among the sites we saw in our last days there were the Colosseum, the Roman forum, St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, the Scala Sancta (sort of by accident), Sant'Ignazio (where the shrine of St. Aloysius Gonzaga is), among other things, not to mention that we got to see the pope from far away.  He gave his Angelus address.  I didn't understand anything except for the prayer (since it was in Latin).  The coolest thing to think about is that when I come back to Rome with the cathedral choir, I will get to sing in some of those churches.

Papa Paco (as I like to call him) from far away
 So I guess the primary purpose of this post would be to say that I did make it home safely and mostly without incident.  It's strange to say, but a lot of the impact of the trip didn't hit me until I had finally left.  By the time we had arrived, I was somewhat homesick and I was eager to get back to the states and see my family and friends and do what I could to get ready for the next school year (my fourth at the school I'm at now and my sixth year teaching overall).

After returning from a trip like this, I have come to realize how much I overobsessed about a lot of little things.  Many aspects of my life were put into perspective, and I came to decide that there are certain things that it's simply not worth it to put up with and certain things in my life that require much more attention.  It's given me the inspiration to actually go and do the things I really want to do without as much hesitation and anxiety over all the other pressures of my life.

I guess the real 'revelation' was simply a heavy re-emphasis of that favorite quote of mine from The Office, where Pam is making up reasons why she can't go to the art school program the company provides.  Jan says to her, "There are always a million reasons not to do something."  This has been an inspiration to me in the past, but this trip has made me rekindle my faithfulness to it.  I am so good at making excuses to not do the things I really want to do, but after this trip, it's like, 'Hey, you just went on a trip across Europe having a million reasons not to have done it.  Were any of those reasons good enough?  Then are any of the excuses you make for other things good enough?'

"There are always a million reasons not to do something."

Obviously, though, there are plenty of things I want to do in life, and I simply can't do all of them.  So this has forced me to realize that I need to make a commitment to a few, and thus I've had to decide what is really important to me.  Sure, watching The Office in the evening is fun and relaxing, but I would much rather be writing or reading or hiking or hanging out with friends.  When I die, I am certain I will not say that I wish I had spent more time watching The Office.

This trip has also taught me not to care so much what people think.  When you have to walk into relatively nice restaurants smelling of damp, sweaty clothes that have not been washed for 20 days and speak a language you do not know very well.  You begin not to care what people think as long as you get your food.  I'm certain I will still worry about what people think, but I will not let that worry prevent me from doing what I want or what is very important to me.

It is also very strange to have left Ed, my companion for a month and a half through joy and sorrow, peril and discovery, only to have to lead our separate lives again.  We are both Catholic High School teachers now (theology teachers to boot).  Maybe we really are brothers.

All these things are simply shadows of all the things I've been thinking about.  I plan to do a post further down the line about some more in depth conclusions/thoughts I've had since returning, but that will have to wait for another time.  In the meantime, we can say that this post is the closing post for the trip, and all else henceforth will be simply musings from a Catholic High School teacher who happens to have gone on a pilgrimage.  But be sure to stay tuned for next summer: The Trodden Road to Trondheim: An Merry American Pilgrim Walks from Oslo to the Shrine of St. Olaf and Discovers His Norwegian Roots.

Okay, perhaps that subtitle is way too long, but that's okay.  The pilgrimage will be long too.

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