Okay, I mentioned that my husband and I were getting ready to take a trip out to the "Midwest" to visit our youngest son at "college" (and to help our niece celebrate her impending marriage at a big family get-together/"bachelorette party"); I was pretty vague about our destination. But this is a mural on the wall of the hotel at which we're staying. So I'm wondering: can you tell exactly where we are in the Midwest? And which institute of higher learning we are visiting? Does this ginormous tribute give it away?
I'll give you a few more hints, in case you're still wondering. Everyone we've seen this morning at the complimentary hotel breakfast, from the age of one to ninety-one, is wearing some sort of blue and gold or kelly green apparel, every cell phone rings with the most famous football fight song ever written, and images of angry Irish leprechauns assault the eye at every turn. I mean, it's very shamrocky around here, if that's even a word (which it should be).
Yes, we're in South Bend, IN, at the University of Notre Dame--one of the most beautiful places on God's green earth, a little slice of Heaven where the Blessed Mother watches over all from atop Her lofty perch on a gleaming dome of gold. If you've never seen the Notre Dame campus, never attended a football game in her historic stadium (the one that made Rudy's dad proclaim, in that must-see movie from the 90's, "It's the most beautiful sight these eyes have ever seen"), never lit a candle at her grotto (a replica of the original grotto dedicated to Our Lady at Lourdes), never jogged around her two small lakes (St. Mary's Lake and St. Joseph's Lake), never attended Mass at her spectacular Basilica of the Sacred Heart...Well, if you've never experienced all of that (and that's just the tip of the iceberg), then I'm sure you can't imagine that such a place as this could even exist. But if you've done all of those things already, then I'm sure this beautiful Catholic university has already got you wrapped around its finger, and you are a fan for life. This place has definitely got a lot of folks who are fans for life. Diehard fans.
Anyway, we're off in a little bit to have a pre-game tailgater with our son and a whole slew of our nieces and their friends, and with my husband's brother and his wife. Today is the Blue-Gold football game at Notre Dame (which you can catch on NBC Sports Network, I believe), and coming here to watch it was as good an excuse as any to visit our youngest boy, to be a part of a family celebration (the Pearl family's favorite kind: the ND tailgater!), and to spend some precious time soaking up the magic of Our Lady's own university, a place that is just plain good for the soul.