I got spoiled at MSU. The butterfly greenhouse, the dancing chimes in the children’s garden and the planetarium were easy walking distance from where I lived–and either free or cheap :). Yes, I was a busy grad student, but I did take time out now and then to enjoy the local attractions!
That was in the mid-90’s. Those things have all been way out of reach ever since.
When we were visiting my mom for her birthday last month, she happened to mention an ad for an evening at the planetarium with the bishop. A wha…? I didn’t know there was a planetarium near her!
I was interested. My prince was too. In fact, it turned out that one of the secret “expeditions” he’d had in mind during the school year (that he’d said would have to wait for summer) was to go to a planetarium! (he knew I enjoyed them)
It was a bit more of an excursion than we’ve been doing (3 hours away), but we could stay with Mom (to her delight :)) and it was something of an exceptional opportunity. A bishop at a planetarium–and a bishop about whom we’ve heard only good things!
Then we discovered that it was billed as a young adult activity–and we exceeded the age limit by a few years! Would that be a problem? Well, the first lady didn’t know (although she was very nice about it). She passed us on to a second. She wasn’t sure either. Ask so & so. Ultimately we got clearance from the final lady, (they’d had an activity “crashed” by the “Red Hat Society” once, but we were close enough…). God seemed to want us there…
In the meantime my prince had contacted another princess we often visit in the area, who expressed interest in the show herself. She didn’t want to intrude on our date, though…so we told her to consider it a double-date with her & Jesus (she’s applying for entrance at a convent & nuns are brides of Christ in a special way). That worked :).
Then someone from Freecycle posted a request for dill. I had dill–in spades! And I was hoping it could go to someone who could make good use of it (my pickles were already done). And since we’d be traveling anyway, we could drop it off closer to where she lived (she said she could use garlic & grape leaves, which we also had in abundance, so we added those).
I was planning to take it easy on this trip. The show wasn’t ’till evening. We could pick the dill & such after my scheduled hour of Adoration, make sure the extra vegetables were safely out of the garden (so we wouldn’t come back to baseball-bat zucchini!), do the last packing casually, shop a bit along the way & arrive sometime late afternoon. Low stress.
It was not to be. That morning I got a call from Mom saying she was in agonizing pain (sciatica) & needed us there as soon as possible so she could get to the urgent care clinic to get a prescription for pain killer (over-the-counter wasn’t doing it). My 98-year-old grandmother lives with her & can’t be left alone for any significant length of time. If we were there, Mom could go, but the last time she went for a “short” trip to the doctor they put her through all sorts of extra tests & kept her for hours & she couldn’t risk leaving Grandma alone under those conditions.
Step up the pace! Forget the shopping, race through the garden & see how fast we can get the pickling supplies dropped off! (after Mass & Adoration)
We arrived early afternoon, by which point Mom was second-guessing. Prescription painkillers have their own hazards. She’d been to a chiropractor & felt a little better. The pain made it hard to think. We did a bit of research, my prince online & I in books. The things we found recommended were largely healthy foods (which she hadn’t been eating) & nutritional supplements (which she owns but hadn’t been taking). Ultimately she decided to try the more natural approach. We’d brought along the last of our best blueberries (she loves blueberries!) & those were supposed to be beneficial, so she polished those off :). I think she mostly needed someone there whom she could lean on a little. She’d been in serious pain for weeks & hadn’t been taking care of herself.
Finally it was time to leave for the show. We found the other princess’ palace (she was staying with friends at a very nice house) and the planetarium with no problem, arriving half an hour early. The other princess knew a transitional deacon there, so we joined in their conversation, which was inspirational…and we got to meet the bishop briefly.
Then the time came for the show to start. The bishop led the opening prayer…and sat down. Hello? I thought this was his presentation! Apparently not. An expert from the other side of the country talked a bit & then turned the microphone over to the guy who runs the planetarium who proceeded to describe the “big bang”.
It went downhill from there. When asked what Genesis had to do with the scientific understanding of creation, the expert replied, “nothing,” and seemed to be amused that anyone would try to correlate the two. Now, I don’t know the field but I know there’s more to it than that! And I know that there’s an inspiring way to talk about the stars and the God Who created them. This was not it. As the realization grew that this was not at all what I’d bargained for, I became increasingly uncomfortable. On the one hand I wanted to tell all these young adults that there were serious problems here. On the other, I wasn’t equipped to explain. Recipe for paralysis & distress. Get me out of here!
But the setup was designed for mingling around snacks afterward. And we had a guest. Fortunately it was already 9pm (our typical bedtime). I could realistically say it’d been a long day & I’d like to go. Our fellow princess just wanted to use the ladies’ room first…but she got snagged in a conversation on the way there…then in another on the way back. My prince wandered over to the snacks & found some fruit he wasn’t allergic to. I was trying hard to blend into the woodwork.
My prince had just returned when a very gracious young lady approached & asked how we’d liked the presentation. My prince quickly jumped in to say that parts of it were interesting & diverted the conversation to safer topics! She noticed his pro-life button, which got him talking about the March for Life (she’d gone & loved it). Eventually the conversation came around to children & I explained that although we don’t have biological children, we do have spiritual children, as Godparents & as hosts of RCIA.
That was the magic word. She’s involved in RCIA & needed information on good resources. When I raved about ACM (the materials we use), she said it was an answer to prayer. I was in my element (finally :)) and promised to send her links when we got home (probably more than she bargained for ;)).
So that’s why God wanted us there.
That and Mom needing someone to be there for her (and pray for her!)…and a fellow who needed to see our devotion at Mass the next morning (to our astonishment, he was nearly in tears when he said how much it meant to him!). And our fellow princess said she & Jesus had a wonderful evening :).