Last Wednesday, March 13, I was glued to the Internet, CNN specifically, watching for white smoke to billow from the Vatican chimney. I had also participated, in the weeks leading up to the conclave, a fun March madness bracket experience called “The Sweet Sistine,” which invited participants to select the next Pope.
So, it was with great eagerness, that I watched, along with hundreds of thousands of others, the doors open on the Vatican balcony, and the introduction of the new Pope.
When I heard Cardinal Bergoglio’s name, my first reaction was, oh, I haven’t heard of him. I wonder who he is and what he’ll be like as Pope.
Then, when he emerged onto the balcony, I was immediately moved by his stillness and humility. A couple of brief waves (in a moment that must have been both awesome and overwhelming)
When I learned the name he’d chosen, Francis, I was moved again. I have always been drawn to St. Francis of Assisi, not only for his humble spirit toward all of creation, but in his radical practice of hospitality.
And, therein, lies my invitation to Pope Francis.
When Pope Francis makes his first papal visit to Roanoke, Virginia, I would like to welcome him into our home, to share dinner with my family: my husband, James, our two children, my former spouse, Leigh Anne, her husband, Hugh, and our two children.
I’d like to introduce him to the marvelous ways spiritual people around the world are creating new and meaningful ways to be family.
I’ll be glad to pick him up at the airport in our mini-van. I’m sure James will be willing to sit in the back, behind the child safety seats, so Pope Francis can sit in front, but won’t be surprised if the Pope offers to sit in back.
And, we’ll be glad to offer up a simple feast that will both nourish our bodies and our souls.
I’m convinced most of all, that the love that binds us all together, will be evident in the breaking of bread.
In the humble act of breaking bread, all of our eyes will be opened to the blessing of being family, in the spirit and practice of Love.
And, we’ll all be blessed.