Mid-March would be safe, I thought. After a mild, Michigan winter, mid-March would be almost spring. Surely I would have no problem taking a bus to Chicago and flying to Spain from there in the almost spring.
So that is how I came to be standing at pole number 13 outside the Sear’s Auto Center in driving snow waiting for a bus to Chicago that was looking unlikely to come. My son-in-law had donated a gigantic, second-hand winter coat to my sorry cause because I had not brought one with me.
Because I was going to Spain. Who needs a winter coat in Spain? And since I am walking the Camino de Santiago, I cannot carry a winter coat. The plan was to abandon the giant coat at the airport in Chicago. Meanwhile, it was like a deliciously warm blanket.
Request #1: Please help me get to the airport on time. Or even to Chicago. I’m not fussy.
Actually voicing a specific request to the God who will be my navigator on this pilgrimage raises a few questions. When I’ve traveled in the past, I’ve needed help, Lord knows. I’ve even asked for it. But I’ve always avoided the “Help me find a parking place” kind of petition. I just can’t envision a God who sits around pulling those kinds of strings. He’s got better things to do than make my life painless.
Confoundingly, since I’m doing this spiritual thing, do I feel more entitled to ask for things? As though I stand a better chance of getting what I ask for. Why? Do I get extra points for moral superiority? An A for effort?
Why wouldn’t I trust in that kind of providence every day? I wouldn’t even need to ask for free parking, I’d believe that everything was working out just fine and if I had to walk from the back of the parking lot, well, I probably need the exercise.
Still, this pilgrimage thing does feel a bit experimental. Like a pas-de-deux. I’m dancing with God, and I’m wondering what the steps will be.
A car drives up. Two girls are inside. “Are you waiting for the bus?” they ask.
I’m very happy to share my anxiety. Turns out the girls had just driven from a nearby town and the one-hour trip had taken two. I’m now shivering uncontrollably since I’ve been waiting for about an hour in the snow. They invite me to wait in their car.
A bus pulls up across the street, NOT by pole 13 and not the name of the company we’re waiting for. A bunch of people who had been sitting in their cars have piled out and are boarding.
“Well, won’t hurt to ask,” one of the girls says. So we drive over.
“Is this the Megabus to Chicago?”
Incredibly, I get to Chicago on time to walk the half-mile to the metro stop for the 40-minute ride to the airport, breeze through check-in and security and make my flight with time to spare. Snowstorm? What snowstorm?
The weather continues to be bitter in Michigan, but it is balmy in Barcelona. I don’t know yet if a pilgrimage cuts you any slack with regard to petitions, but I’m keeping track, and I’ll let you know.