Some things are worth sacrifices. But when the sacrifice is over, you don’t sit around thinking, “Gee, I wish I was still sacrificing.” It doesn’t mean that you would change anything about the past, or even that you hated every minute of the sacrifice. It was worth it, but now there’s a new phase of life and you’re okay with that.
For the past six years, I had the joy and honor to teach almost every Saturday from mid-February to mid-May and mid-August to mid-November. It was worth sacrificing my Saturdays (and about half of my Fridays) to have the opportunity to preach the Gospel and share the joy of Jesus Christ with over a thousand people.
It was a joy, but it’s also a joy to have my Saturdays back. One of the first things I planned? A road trip to Notre Dame.
Two weeks ago, three guys and I piled in my friend Matt’s Jeep early Friday morning to make the trip to the beautiful state of Indiana. It was harvest time, the trees were changing, and I was goin’ back to Indiana.
It was fun to show Mario and Father my old stomping grounds — our first stop was my home parish, St. Boniface. The church was unlocked and it was just good to be home again. As we were leaving, my pastor was driving into the parking lot– such a gift! So we got to chat with him and then I had the guts to ask him a question about the church that I had wondered since middle school… and he must be turning soft, because he showed me the answer – a secret I didn’t think I would ever be told. I would be more transparent about it if I didn’t think my middle school classmates would hunt me down and make me tell them, too. Suffice to say, it was pretty awesome.
Then we went over to the perpetual adoration chapel, which I saw with new eyes, taking guests there. I had always known it was beautiful, but I think walking into it realizing that most people probably expect a little room tucked in the corner of the hospital… and then you walk into a gorgeous Gothic chapel with incredible statues and beautiful stained glass windows — well, we’re pretty blessed in Lafayette.
I stole this picture off the internet. And it doesn’t do the chapel justice.
We didn’t have much time before dinner, so we finished the tour of Lafayette with a stop at the taproom at People’s Brewery. People’s is an addition to Lafayette after I left home, but I had enjoyed their beer when Mom and Dad bought it, and they usually bring me a six-pack when they visit. So I was looking forward to checking out the taproom. So that we didn’t have to make decisions, we decided to get two flights, which would include samples of everything they had on tap, and split them.
The nice guy bringing us our flights described them all, then recommended drinking them from low IBUs to high, so that the hops wouldn’t wreck our palate. I think my favorite was Belgian Stout, which we couldn’t take home because it’s made with nitrogen and they can’t bottle it. But we ended up bringing home the regular IPA and the Red Ale (which I liked because it was named for our local Irish pub). I was hoping to like their Oktoberfest, because it’s brewed especially for my home parish’s Germanfest, but it just wasn’t my favorite.
We returned to the homestead for a delicious dinner (thanks, Mom!), and another good friend of mine, Father David, joined us because he knew Father Kevin from seminary. My nieces were staying with my parents, so it was an extra treat to get to spend time with them, too. I feel like the guys got a little taste of the family craziness, which is always good. After dinner we played a rousing game of Trivial Pursuit. (Dad and the priests won.)
The next morning we woke up bright and early to continue our grand adventure. Father celebrated Mass, Mom made breakfast, and then we hit the Hoosier Heartland to trek up to Notre Dame. My awesome brother not only got us tickets but also a parking pass, so we parked south of campus and headed to the bookstore. Since we were parked so close to campus, we could even take our loot back to the car before exploring the rest of campus. It’s the little things that count, you know?
It was fun to show the guys the way my family always celebrated game days. Steak sandwiches from the Knights of Columbus, prayers at the Basilica and the Grotto, and a fairly new tradition, the trumpets under the Dome. But it was my first game back on campus since my sister-in-law’s father had passed away, and it was sad not to see him at his tailgate. I’m sure St. Peter frequents his Notre Dame tailgates these days.
The game was a too much a nail-biter — it made it fun, but I would rather have been bored. : ) But we pulled it off in the end.
We celebrated the win with another Watson tradition … Bruno’s for dinner after the game! We didn’t have to wait as long as I thought we would (and I even saw one of my brother’s old friends at the bar). Then we hit the road to head back to Lafayette, and we all fell asleep in the car. Except Matt. I’m so grateful to Matt and Mario for for driving all weekend.
Sunday we headed back to Tennessee. A short trip, but packed with old memories and new inside jokes. So many of my childhood Saturdays were spent on that campus, and it was good to return – and actually witness an Irish win. (the last game I went to, we lost to Air Force… and the two people I took to the game ended up breaking up a few days later…Eek. Needless to say, better memories this time around…)