Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Countdown is On

A photo taken on the morning of New Year's Eve, 2006. My breakfast of champions: Two coffees and a Luna bar at Rodilla, a popular restaurant chain in Madrid. It was going to be a long day - and night. I needed the extra caffeine.

24 hours from now: we will be enjoying the final hours of Christmas Eve. Sitting and staring at the tree. Eating our birthday cake for Jesus - an annual tradition for our family. Talking. Laughing. Listening to music. Commenting on what we thought of the Christmas Eve service at the church.

48 hours from now: we will be enjoying the last hours of Christmas day - and our final night together for a while. Talking about how fast the day and year have passed. About how amazing it is that a baby born in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago grew up to be the man whose words and actions serve as our supreme example of love, sacrifice, grace, forgiveness, and life itself.

72 hours from now: I will be on an airplane somewhere out over the Atlantic Ocean on my way to Madrid.

Yup, Steve did it again. On his own.
Went online, compiled our frequent flier miles, and booked me a ticket:
Charlotte - Miami - Madrid - Rome - Chicago - Charlotte.
Departing on December 26th.
Returning on January 7th.
He found the hotel in Rome too.

Either he was a travel agent in a former life (not likely - for many reasons)
or he ought to consider being one later in this life.

Here's how this trip came about:

He came home from work one day a couple of weeks ago and said,
"It's done. You're going."

Submissive, compliant wife that I am (I just typed that with my fingers crossed, so it doesn't actually count as a lie!), I asked, "Going where?"

"Madrid and Rome."

"You're kidding."

"No, I'm not. You'll leave on the day after Christmas, go to Madrid for six nights, and then fly to Rome and spend five nights there."

A couple dozen questions and responses flew back and forth between us for about ten minutes. Then nothing. Silence. Heart racing. Smiling. Realizing. Accepting.

"Okay. I'll go."

So I'm going. To spend time with Leticia and Eduardo and their son, Alvaro - who is now one year old. I will walk and think and write in my journal. Read and prepare to teach my journaling class. Collect coffee shop receipts. Spend time alone.

The Prado. The Thyssen. El Museo Sorolla. Eat 12 grapes at midnight on New Year's Eve. A classical music concert on New Year's Day. Followed by a nap. Followed by packing my suitcase.

An early morning flight from Madrid to Rome on January 2nd. Santa Maria del Popolo. The Borghese Gallery. The Vatican. Santa Maria Maggiore. San Giovanni in Laterano. The Galleria Doria Pamphilj. Meeting up with old friends. Hopefully making new friends.

What will I do?
Who will I meet?
How much will I learn?
How many tears will I shed?

Yes, the countdown is on.

PS. Has anyone seen the amazing (near) full moon tonight?

This photo was taken as I walked from my hotel to Leticia and Eduardo's apartment building in January of this year. In Madrid.


jmgb said...

Ahh! Joy!
Blessings to you Gail, as you travel, search, mediate, sip, eat, love, write, dwell, and enjoy...cannot wait to hear of what you experience, what God reveals.
Much love to you and your family today...will be thinking of you!

Amy said...


I see "Firstlight" in this photo. I LOVE Sue Monk Kidd's writings. Have you read "The Dance of the Dissodent Daughter?" Awesome book about Kidd's spiritual journey in recent years. We used to live in the same town in SC.