When my friend from New York came to Fargo recently with her youngest three boys on their way to Glacier National Park, it was a given our time together would be short.
Road construction and rush-hour traffic factors further pushed their hoped-for arrival behind. By the time they pulled into our driveway, the sun was dropping low.
I knew the brevity of the visit would only allow our travel-worn guests enough time to lay down their weary heads for the night, before an early-rise morning. But as they inched their way closer to Fargo, a plan began percolating.
What might we do with this little slice of time we’d have? Searching my heart, I caught sight of what this soul sister might most appreciate. So, soon after their arrival, I proposed my crazy plan to bring her out into the Fargo night for a brief “spiritual tour.”
After she settled her boys, off we two went into the moon-lit evening. Happily, I brought her past our kids’ parochial schools, and then to several spiritual reprieves: the Adoration chapels at Sts. Anne and Joachim and St. Mary’s parishes.
At each, she marveled at the beauty and newness. So many churches where she lives are old, and even dying, she said. The sight of newer structures with splashes of colorful and poignant art seemed to enliven her spirit.
I also drove her downtown to where I pray as a sidewalk prayer advocate, pointing out The Forum building nearby. As a fellow writer and Christian, she was receptive to seeing where the bulk of my heart’s work plays out.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel behind St. Mary’s marked our final stop. There, we paused together, stepping inside to pray.
Kneeling, I asked God to bless this precious single mother of five and her darling boys, and keep them safe.
As we rose to leave, I noticed moisture in her eyes. “Thank you,” she said as we reached the foyer. We hugged, then walked back out into the peaceful night to take a selfie on the steps. My friend has been through a lot, yet here she was, risking much to offer her boys this wild adventure.
Their next destination would involve tenting in the Black Hills, and I couldn’t help but think how few in her place would even entertain such a feat. Yet, knowing her story, I knew exactly what had given her the courage to do so. “God, be with them,” I’d whispered in the chapel earlier. And I knew, just as our Lord had been close to her at her lowest, when she’d sought him out in desperation, he’d be there, too, on this latest journey, guiding, protecting and loving.
[For the sake of having a repository for my newspaper columns and articles, I reprint them here, with permission, a week after their run date. The preceding ran in The Forum newspaper on July 15 , 2017.]