Watching and waiting.

We are in Sydney! I have left all of my loved ones behind to spend some time with strangers from around the world.

It seems that my first post was almost prophetic, as I spoke of being sleep deprived and emerging unkempt from the plane as a sign of pilgrim status. Well it seems any skepticism I had about not being quite a pilgrim in Australia was answered, as our plane was delayed by an hour and a half and we boarded the red eye flight literally rubbing sore and itchy sleep deprived eyes, most of us not even grabbing forty winks on the plane. But that was nothing… another group travelling on the same day had their 10am flight rescheduled for 1 in the morning!

In the mean time, milling around the waiting area, I managed to catch up with some friends I hadn’t seen for quite a while. We talked of old times and some theories we had developed in our own minds about theology and ethics; expectations of what we would get up to at WYD and our plans for after the event was over.

Tick tick tick… time went on, I cast  a semi-bored eye over the other travellers, some who had set up makeshift beds on the floor. I spied two Franciscan friars who looked exactly the same. Yes, they were identical twins, and I was overcome by curiosity as to how they had both come to receive the same vocation. We chatted a little, and it turned out that one of the brothers(x2) was involved in a soup kitchen program in the north of England, just two towns away from my grandmother’s home, and coincidentally, I am going to visit her shortly after this pilgrimage is over. It was soon suggested that I go and lend a hand to the project, a prospect that pleased me no end.  We were called to board, I bid them goodbye, and finally we were in the sky.

At Sydney airport, I stood outside waiting to be picked up so I could go to bed and catch a few zs. The wind whipped up a good chill, and as I turned around to retreat to the warmth of the airport, I saw two little dogs huddled up on a man’s lap (“They’re miniature fox terriers,” he told me, “Milly and Molly.”). Dear little things…the man could tell I wanted to stroke them, and assured me they were gentle, and indeed they greeted me with a couple of sniffs and a lick on the hand. The man and I got to talking, and asked me what I was doing in Sydney. I told him about World Youth Day, and he (a little shyly) admitted to being a lapsed Catholic. He looked at my wrist “aren’t they Buddhist?” he asked, “No, it’s a Rosary,” I replied, and took one off to give him. He seemed reluctant at first, but assured that I had brought them specifically give away, gratefully took it.

What will become of these meetings, I don’t know, but it certainly appears that close encounters are going to be there for the picking over the next few days.

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