We began our odyssey in the Athens of the south, walking through the magnificent doors of the Parthenon. We spread out first among the gallery of American artists presented beneath the great hall above, sharing little joys we discovered. Upstairs the grotesque countenance of Athene glared down upon us, her great neck rising up from broad, golden shoulders. I swept myself into a conversation with Mr. Slife, and soon we were all involved. Why snakes? She boasted them on her shield, chest, and they wrapped themselves about her wrists in twisting, golden bands; why were they there?
Canongate reconvened outside, and we stooped and shuffled our ways into the vans once again, zigging and zagging our way through unfamiliar streets. Working off local’s directions and unreliable GPS, we wound our way to the Nashville Dominicans, refreshing ourselves with smoothies before entering into the cool, beautiful darkness of the church. A sister bid us walk in the rainbow sunset—silently, separately—each of us drawn to a different window, every one a chapter in St. Cecilia’s life. After we swirled slowly about the room, stirred perhaps by the Spirit, a bell rang, we took our seats, and a glory rushed into the room. Sisters came pouring in, white like milk, and the room whispered with their flying robes. Seats were filled, habits considered, and silence descended lightly. The prayer was glorious. Never have I been so aware of devotion as when I sat among my classmates and among the sisters, all laying themselves down before God. After evening prayer, we were given another opportunity for joy as we toured the building and came upon a few sisters at recreation, hugging a guitar, and working to muster a song. They invited us over, we sang for them, they sang for us—smiles blossomed. We left the convent amid silver, the moon holding nothing back in her praise that night.
Nashville kept us awake that evening, as we wound through the packed streets, assaulted on all sides by drums and horns and guitars. The sidewalk was a river; a constant stream of pedestrians bouncing off and around the others waiting to squeeze themselves into the already crowded bars. In fours and fives we slipped in for pizza, satisfying our growling stomachs under colored lights and classic rock. The morning rose early, and, despite praying for a miracle, so did we. Again into the vans, and we sat ourselves in our final destinations, theatre seats, at Aquinas College. The conversations flowed easily as we rode home, and conversations soon turned into song, and song sustained us.
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