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Road trips. I love ’em! I love to get behind the wheel and go, just my wife, me, and the highway for eight to ten hours a day. It’s been way too long since our last one! The social isolation of COVID-19 has, for the most part, kept us home. Melinda and I did venture out last week, along with 12 others from our parish, to participate in a mission trip to Appalachia Kentucky to repair houses for those who can no longer afford to maintain their homes (perhaps a future post?). Other than that, we’ve stayed at home since mid-March.

Yesterday afternoon, full of anticipation, we hit the road heading northwest for an almost three week excursion that will include a long over due family reunion with all our children and grandchildren. Leaving Cincinnati on I-74, we pointed the car towards Indianapolis, Indiana, and then Bloomington, Illinois. At Bloomington, we turned north on I-39 and motored towards Madison, Wisconsin, for our first night out.

We made the turn at Bloomington about 7:30 p.m., and we broke out our Rosaries. Melinda and I have faithfully prayed the Rosary together every day since the first of April. When Pope Francis wrote his letter on 25 April encouraging everyone to pray the Rosary daily during the month of May, we invited a friend to join us. Our friend, who lives in Louisiana, was struggling with the social isolation and welcomed the opportunity to spend time together. Since May 1st, every evening at 7:30 p.m. we have FaceTimed and prayed the Rosary together, asking Our Blessed Mother to intercede for the health and well being of a long list of people. Being on the road was not going to keep us from joining together in prayer and meditation.

We prayed our Rosary, laughed and chatted for a bit, and then, about half way to Rockford, Illinois, said our goodbyes just as the sun was setting. Overhead were heavy gray clouds, but away on the horizon the sun found a chink through which it set the sky on fire with a fierce beauty the likes of which I haven’t seen in thirty years! Since I was driving and couldn’t do more than chance a quick glance at that marvelous sight, I asked Melinda to snap a photo so I could relive that beautiful moment when we stopped for the night.

Sunset in Northern Illinois, 20 July 2020

I recalled that morning’s Gospel passage from Mt 12:38-42 in which the scribes and Pharisees asked Jesus to give them a sign to help them believe. I found comfort knowing that I don’t need to see a sign to believe, rather I see the signs because I believe. This sunset seemed to be God’s way of thanking me for my belief. Thank you, Lord!

We arrived safely at our hotel in Madison, Wisconsin after 504 miles and eight and a half hours of driving. It was a great day! Road trips, I love ‘em! I can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring. Check back to find out.

“Heavenly Father, thank You for the opportunity to travel in this great land, Your creation, with all its magnificence and beauty. Thank You for the finishing touches that only You, the Artist of artists, can paint. Thank You for friends with whom we can love and be loved and grow closer to You, together. And, thank You, Lord, for protecting us in our travels. Please watch over my family as we travel to be with each other. Amen.”

(Road Trip Reflections: Rosaries, Sunsets and Signs was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

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