Image courtesy of Wikipedia
Holy Cross-Immaculata Church sits at the very top of Mount Adams (really, at the very top of Cincinnati itself) and for the past 150 Good Fridays, local Catholics have prayed the steps - walking the 85 steps up to the front door of the church while praying the Rosary.
This year was our first year as a family to be part of this beautiful tradition.
On our way down I-71, we were all quiet. The kiddos were tired, having stayed up late on their first night of their Easter break only to be rousted out of their beds at the same old time in the morning as any other school day. Other than a few words, Knute and I were silent, too.
The day was a picture of spring in SW Ohio - bright blue skies, grass green and lush with new growth, forsythia bursting open in yellow abandon. I looked out my window, transifixed by the simple beauty of old made new once again.
I saw a couple in the next lane, their car zooming past ours, who looked to be well into their grandparent years. I wondered for a moment where they were headed while simultaneously hoping that Knute and I would one day be headed down the highway on a blue sky day, both of us white-haired and wrinkled.
Behind them, in a greater hurry, came an older luxury sedan. The driver had his blue tooth in his ear and looked every inch like a corporate executive or successful lawyer. He chopped his right hand through the air, his point too big for mere words. How funny it is, I thought, the habit of talking with our hands, a habit we keep even when no one can see them.
Another car came by, this one a family like ours in a minivan. The couple was older with two children, a teenager and a toddler. My mind raced with reasons for the wide gap in ages and came up with at least half a dozen.
Watching all these souls go by, off to wherever that Good Friday took them, I wondered what they saw when they peered in my van, what brief still photo they took of my family, how they labeled it.
I thought, too, of how we are all traveling through this life, racing down roads - some busy, some barely populated - toward what lies beyond. What waits for all of us.
Later, between prayers on the steps, Huck leaned against me.
"Are we at the church yet?" he asked, not whining, but a bit plaintive. I couldn't blame him; the wait on St. Gregory Street to get to where the steps began had been just about an hour.
"Almost," I whispered, pointing up. "Can you see the statue of Mary up there? The big cross?"
"I can't see anything." he replied. He sighed - a frustrated, tired, I-wanna-go-home-and-eat-lunch-already sigh.
Without realizing it, I whispered to myself more than to him, "Faith is the evidence of things not seen."
Lent is over; the Easter season is full upon us.
But the traveling, the climbing, the journeying that mark Lent never really ends. We're all headed down the roads of our life - some fast, some slow - toward what waits.
I worry in nagging fits and spurts that while I'm journeying through this life, racing from one place to another, from one task to another, I'm going so fast that I can't see what's really important, what really matters. I worry that all that is good in my life could vanish in an instant, all those who I love carried away by a split second of devastation.
All I can do in those moments when the worry wraps itself around my legs like a riptide in the ocean is remember my faith. Remember that while there is much that I cannot, will not, see clearly now in this life, it is still there.
HE is still there.
And remember, too, that the best way to escape those riptides is not to race foward toward the beach but to go across the rip, to go sideways instead.
Not forward at full tilt, eyes glued to the clock. Not backward over lost ground, lost days, heart heavy with loss or sorrow or regret.
*I didn't take any photos last Friday but the view over the Ohio River into Kentucky from the overlook at Immaculata is just breathtaking. You can get a glimpse of it in this picture. For more pictures of the pilgrimmage of the steps, click here.