Golden-voiced Pat Gohn delivers the opening remarks.
We ended the day with a prayer: The Hail Mary. As the lovely-voiced Pat Gohn said, it’s a small but powerful prayer. The phrase that jumped out at me as more than a hundred women raised their voices together in prayer was “blessed art thou among women.” Truly it was a day spent among women, a day full of blessings.
The weeks leading up to it were full of delicious anticipation. I’ve noted before what a wonderful thing it is to meet “in real life” a friend who you’ve known in this funny medium of the internet. In this last week as I tried to imagine what it would be like I kept thinking of that beautiful passage from St Paul: “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face” (1 Corinthians 13:12). These words on the screen can be deceptive. We can create false images, false idols, false demons of the people hiding behind the glass; but we can also we catch glimpses of the real person, see true beauty, make real connections, begin to forge true friendships. And yet no amount of online communication can truly substitute for the moment when you finally see your friend’s face, hear her voice, and put your arms around her for a hug.
The fabulous Betty Beguiles with adorable Baby Beguiles, who was a real princess. Despite being sick, she was so very sweet tempered.
To me anticipating this day was a little bit like anticipating heaven. And finally meeting these friends, celebrating with them, sharing with them moments of laughter over pictures of poop and tears over moments of vulnerability, eating with them and praying with them…. this is foretaste of that heavenly banquet when all of us will (with God’s abundant mercy) one day meet face to face not only with the One who created us but also with each other, the great wedding banquet when we will feast together and there will be no tears, no parting, just one never-ending communion of saints. What a party that will be!
Check out Betty Beguiles’ fabulous dress! (Sorry for the blurry photo.)
And our God is good to prepare us for the journey he gives us food to sustain us. The food of friendship, the fellowship of other women. For me the last few years have been hard. I haven’t had much female companionship. Enough sips here and there to sustain life, to keep me going; but not an abundance. Yesterday was a plentiful oasis in the midst of a long march through an arid landscape. I drank deeply. I was refreshed.
Me and Anthony. Photo courtesy of Betty Beguiles.
I’m not going to try to describe the day’s schedule, or to summarize any of the talks or discussions. They were good, very , very good; but I think someone whose brain is clearer and who wasn’t frequently distracted by a six week-old baby might do it more justice. Summarizing has never been one of my strengths as a writer anyway. (Mental note to make sure Bella, Sophie, Ben and Anthony someday get plenty of practice so they aren’t mental weaklings like me.)
Rachel Balducci and Linda, a parishoner at St Pat’s who does not read blogs. (Really? There is life without blogs?!)
I didn’t get very many pictures. I didn’t bring a camera, just my iPhone. And most of the time I was distracted or Anthony wasn’t very cooperative anyway. But I grabbed a few pics from twitter and am sure other people will share their photos later.
Anthony sleeping on my shoulder. Photo snapped by Kate Wicker.
Anyway, there’s a school of thought that says you should put down the camera and just enjoy the moment. And most of the time I did.
I didn’t get nearly enough time to talk to anyone. How could I? I know I could spend an entire day—or a lifetime really—being with each one of these women. Another taste of what heaven is for. It is there that we will finally fill our longings to have all the time in the world to really get to know all the people we long to befriend. Only in eternity can this deep thirst for friendship be fully quenched. And so I try to satisfy myself with the tastes I’m given. Try not to regret too much the opportunities not fully realized.
I won’t try to list all the women I met. That would risk leaving someone off. The photos here are just a small smattering, a random sampling. Had I been able to snap pictures all day they still would be inadequate. I seem to be apologizing here for the limitations because I feel rather like Dante tasked with describing Paradiso…. words and pictures fail to capture the glory of Presence. And this day was full of moments that cannot be described, only cherished in the heart.
Group photo courtesy of conversiondiary
We ended the day with the Faith and Family crew at Pizzaria Uno. More food and laughs. Oh so many laughs. These women know how to enjoy themselves. It was hard to say goodbye at the end of the evening, though cold winds kept the farewells from stretching too long.
With the Faith and Family gang at Pizzaria Uno, photo courtesy of conversiondiary
I hope we can all do it again real soon.
b>I’ll update this with links to other blog posts about the day as they come in.
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