Dug had one of his best weekends ever. First of all, there were National Guard soldiers stationed at every single corner within the restricted area known as the "Traffic Box." As you can imagine (and thankfully), they did not have much to do, so they were always happy to see Dug, and he of course to see them. He would leave the house and pull the leash to visit each corner nearby. And on Sunday, one of them had dog treats! Also, since so many people, kids, and dogs were out and about, he got plenty of attention. Saturday, we took a walk through Rittenhouse Square, and there were a group of high school girls who were in town with their school to see the Pope, and they all wanted selfies with him! (Though the squealing when they saw him was ear-splitting, I have to say.) Then on our way home, we stopped at a local boutique to say hi to the women who work there, and are always asking me where he is. They gave him a little Pope charm for his collar, and posted this picture on their Facebook page:
(Needless to say, he is very sad today that his friends on the corner are all gone.)
I am what is known as a cafeteria Catholic. This is largely a result of my innate cynicism, my upbringing, and my education. I am a very spiritual person, but not incredibly religious. I could go on and on about this, but I don't really feel that most of you want to know *that* much about it. :-)
The first pope I remember was John XXIII, from when I was a little girl. I always felt looking at him that he was a good guy, and as an adult have learned that he actually was. I did not like Paul VI very much at all. I felt that John Paul I had possibilities, but he did not live long enough for us to find out. I am quite possibly the only person in the world who strongly disliked John Paul II (I know, heresy!), and to give you an idea how much I disliked Pope Benedict, I always called him "Pope Adolf."
But Pope Francis seems like a genuine, good guy. (It also helps with me that he is a Jesuit, since that is part of my education.) As a result, I was actually excited that he was coming to Philadelphia.
And he did not disappoint. It was really wonderful to see him interact with people. He smiles - a true smile - A LOT. And though the Secret Service was hoping to just get him from Point A to Point B without stopping, he would have none of it. One of my favorite things is when he met the Pope Baby.
I also loved it when he visited a local prison and met with both the inmates, and some families who were victims of those inmates. It was very moving and so amazing to see how he was received. So many of the inmates asked to hug him, and would receive a genuine hug. Families would give him group hugs, and he would bless each one of them.
There was also this on Sunday:
Apparently the World Meeting of Families (the reason he was in Philadelphia) gave tickets to each cultural institution along the Parkway, where the Mass was going to be, since they had to be closed for security reasons. At my work, they had a raffle, and I actually won! Due to a long and annoying story involving changes to the entrances and extreme security, The Tim and I only made it to 1/2 block away from getting in to the Mass before they stopped admitting people. That was disappointing, but a) we were still there, b) it was as close as we're ever likely to get to the Pope, and c) the people in the crowd were all so joyous, kind, and friendly, that it was an amazing experience nonetheless, and could easily be its own blog post. :-)
Neither of us are much for crowds, but we were ready to give it a try. And if you had to be around a ton of people, this was the kind of crowd to be around. No pushing, shoving, complaining, etc. When we arrived to get in line, here was the sight in front of us:
Do you see the "white line" going across, beyond the traffic lights? That was the security checkpoint! At least 1/2 of those people should have been in another line, which is why we never got to where we should have (like I said, long story).
As The Tim pointed out though - in the end, at least on the way home we were entertained by seeing this guy:
Sometimes, that's the best you can do, I guess ...
Today, the city is back to the usual, the Pope is back in Vatican City, and tomorrow, my routine is back to normal. But this weekend will be memorable for a long time to come, not just for us and the City of Philadelphia, but also for one happy but very tired Doodle Dog ...