This week, I had the opportunity to attend the papal audience at St. Peter's Square in Rome. We arrived hours early, as most of the audience does, and waited for the pope to arrive. The Swiss Guards, wearing red-feathered helmets and blue, red and orange uniforms, were scattered throughout the square. They represented a reminder of an earlier time and the importance of tradition in the Catholic Church.
The pope took his time with the crowd, and with those who were near the dais, as if to say to those around him, "I am not in a hurry; I have all the time in the world. You are not alone; I am with you."
This week, we celebrated my father's birthday in Rome as a family. Yes, we sang "Happy Birthday" to him, and yes, he had the opportunity to pick the menu for his dinner, which included calamari, steak and pasta. In that way, we certainly followed tradition. Our gift was also homemade and was the greatest gift of all -- the gift of time. It is the one gift that cannot be bought and cannot be picked out by someone else. It's a way of saying, "I am not in a hurry. I have all the time in the world. You are not alone; I am with you. You are loved."
Our family was blessed to be able to be together this week to celebrate his birthday. I am sure that we will long savor the time that we met in Rome and broke bread together celebrating his birthday.
Happy birthday, Dad!