You might say that it really would have only taken one sister to make the trip to LAX to pick up Sister Judith when she returned from Rome. But it really did take eight of us.
No, she did not have that many bags. And, no we do not travel in herds.
We just couldn’t wait the extra hour or so between her coming through customs and arriving home at the convent.
It was September 8th, the Feast of the Birth of Mary, so when our superior reminded us at dinner we needed to be leaving in five minutes, we quickly downed the rest of our ice cream and dashed for the garage. All but one of us, that is. She just picked up her ice cream and took it with her! She wasn’t taking any chances of being left behind.
The first car left a few minutes before the second, which is the one that I was in. But after circling a few times through the parking garage and finding a spot, we were walking into Bradley International and saw the first car still looking for a spot. The freeways in LA are mysterious!
So at last there were eight Carmelites in the sea of people waiting for their family and friends. It was getting close to our bedtime, and some of us got the giggles. Maybe it was the sheer excitement of knowing our sister was coming home to stay. Maybe it was the ice cream at dinner. Whatever it was, we were quite a joyful sight.
Customs at LAX is another mystery. The flight arrival has nothing to do with when you will actually see the person you came to pick up. So to try and have some idea of when Sister Judith would emerge, we starting comparing the languages we heard with the list of flights that had already landed.
“They were speaking German. That means that flight has some in. Three more to go!”
“That must be Chinese. We only have two more flights to wait through.”
“Spanish! The flight before Sister Judith’s was coming from Mexico. She’s next!”
“Did you hear that? Those people had British accents! That means she’s coming!!!”
Forget the large signs that said “Do Not Enter,” as soon as we saw that brown habit coming up the ramp, we all ran to greet her. Any planned greetings were lost in a sea of “Praised be Jesus Christ!” and “We’re so glad to have you home.” and “It’s so good to see you!”
If you had been at Bradley International Terminal on the evening of September 8, 2010, at about 8:30 p.m., you would have witnessed a visible expression of the love that permeates our community. But if you had been at 920 E. Alhambra Road at about 9:20 p.m., you would have seen an even greater manifestation. This is because those who were not able to go to the airport were waiting at the gate to greet the cars when we arrived at the convent. More hugs, more laughter, more jubilant greetings.
So, you see, it really does take eight Carmelites to pick up one sister!