Denver, home to the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, rarely is the first stop on a tour, whether it’s a rock concert or an exhibit with relics of a saint. While I was writing “Warriors at the Gate,” a frightening tale of exorcism and spiritual warfare, I learned entirely by accident that the relics of St. Padre Pio were being exhibited at the cathedral. The revelation came as I was writing about the relics that my very own Fr. Francis Vindicare carried to keep him safe while battling fierce demons.
In my research of relics, I learned that in Catholic lingo, “relics” actually means body parts. So that afternoon, with a slight, drizzling rain falling, I made my way to the cathedral to see body parts of a dead saint. The holy internet told me that the previous year, the Diocese of Boston showed Padre Pio’s heart. Other exhibits from the Vatican reliquary displayed parts of fingers, feet and bones. I was psyched!
Fr. Padre Pio, who died about 15 years ago, led a life filled with torture from demons. He battled them with his unswerving faith. It his possible that Padre Pio’s relics would be powerful in an exorcism.
On my May 10 visit to the cathedral, there was no heart, organ or bone. Unless it was sliced very thin and placed in a glass orb. My thirst for morbid satisfaction was unresolved. While my visit with the saint was disappointing, the cathedral was quite beautiful.
St. Mary’s Glacier, near Idaho Springs, CO
Base elevation: 10,300 ft.
Vertical Climb: 470 ft. over ¾ of a mile
Geographical coordinates: West of Denver, less than 1 hour from home
God’s finger must have touched Colorado when He created Earth. The mountainous drive to St. Mary’s Glacier will take your breath away. For me, the altitude got me. The steep, hillside parking lot cased me to reach for my asthma inhaler practically before the climb started. The initial ascent is quite steep over large, loose ankle-buster rocks, but I was encouraged by the short length of the hike. In retrospect, the brevity of the hike was perhaps the only disappointing aspect.
Once at the base of the glacier, the view is outstanding. Especially if you are fortunate enough, as I was, to have nine or 10 Indian people from India standing in front of every desirable photo angle. But I, wearning patience as my armor, waited them out. Their reason for lingering was so that they could Skype every person in India to share the moment.
St. Mary’s Glacier is listed as a semi-permanent glacier, and it was not as immense as I thought it might be. I walked on the glacier, and the top layer was slick but soft, like Italian ice. A large rock made a perfect seat for a picnic lunch of beef jerky, Goldfish crackers and water. Before leaving, I did sip water from a glacier stream. It might be the purest water I’ll ever taste.
I didn’t climb all thew way to the summit of the glacier. From the mossy perch below, cold air currents occasionally cursed the warm air on it’s way down the mountainside. Next trip, I’ll make extra time to visit nearby Loch Lomond and Chinn’s Lake.
It was shortly after 6 a.m. and my roommate, Craig, asked what I was going to do on my day off. “I’m not quite sure,” I told him. Upon investigation of museums and events, I found one that captured my imagination. It was a free TED Talk in Boulder listed in the Daily Camera. The wording suggested it was a preview of a ted talk, or perhaps a live taping. How exciting! I packed my computer, fueled up the Pontiac and made the scenic 34-mile drive on a beautiful Colorado day.
I arrived at the site, Golden West certain that I was in the wrong place. It was a senior home. There would be no electrifying guest speaker, no videotaping. There would be about 15 residents and a few other outsiders from the community. There would be a kindly events director from the home who operated the computer and projection screen. I was the only male. The topic was listed in the paper as “Creating Happiness” but instead, the offering was “The Power of Vulnerability.”
Even though I could have left and watched the same TED Talk on my laptop, I decided to stay. It was very entertaining, and it was obvious from the ensuing discussion that some of the women were very moved by Brene Brown’s storytelling. I participated in the discussion and was thanked for my contribution in the elevator as I left. It wasn’t the worst 90 minutes of my life.
After a phone call with an admissions officer at Syracuse U’s MBA program, I found a coffee shop to wash down the cost of finishing my MBA degree. The barista at Flatiron Coffee was delightful, making customers laugh and engaging them in conversation. I edited a tough part of my novel feeling a sense of accomplishment. Later in the afternoon, I participated in a planning meeting for the Ghost Town Writers Retreat. Driving home through Sheridan, I saw two ridiculous signs that made me laugh. Board for the Lord, and don’t forget to honk.