At our church we have a Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration. Every day 24/7 someone is in our chapel for a one hour period of time in reverent devotion. What is Adoration? I copied the following explanation.
Adoration (in a holy hour) is a period of meditation, prayers and devotion in the presence of the Holy Eucharist exposed on the altar. There is no fixed way to spend the hour; the adorer will probably experiment with many. In a sense it is continuation in time of the moment of elevation at Mass, when the priest shows the host to the people, who pause momentarily in adoration. Our Church began Perpetual Adoration on Easter morning 2007 as a response to the Holy Father's request for greater devotion to Christ in the Eucharist. It is called "perpetual" because the Holy Eucharist is exposed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week...except for Holy Saturday.
I had long felt the desire to participate, but had managed to procrastinate in making a commitment. Then in January, a weekday slot opened up during what I like to call the middle of the night. The slot is really in the early hours of the morning of a new day. Living so close to the church compelled me to commit to an hour that might prove to be more of a hardship for others. I literally roll out of the bed twenty minutes before I need to relieve the person who worships the hour before me. This allows me the time to dress in the dark and walk to the chapel.
During our Church renovation we have been using the chapel at the rectory (priests' home). The rectory is located at the far end of the Church campus and is the farthest building from my home. It's still a very short walk. A walk with varying degrees of street post lighting and dark mostly quiet shadowy areas. The area closest to the rectory has minimal lighting and a lawn with several mature trees casting dark shadows.
I braved up and decided to walk to the chapel each week instead of driving thus contributing to the saving of the environment. The first month's walk went well enough and was quite uneventful. I've found that nobody wants to be out and about in the middle of the night in the winter. Then February arrived with a mild snow storm. I put on my warmest sweat pants, my USF hockey jersey, pulled on my snow boots, and wore my big purple Raiders car coat. I was super warm and ready to battle the elements.
Walking down the sidewalk was quite taxing. My ankles began to ache terribly and my shins felt like they were burning as I shuffled through the snow covered sidewalk. I decided that it would be easier to cross through the snow covered grass to the parking lot than to continue walking on the sidewalk. The parking lot looked to have been plowed, having less accumulated snow on the lot surface. A grassy area slopes down to the parking lot and the plowed snow had been pushed to the edge of the parking lot where it meets the grass. So I would have to get over the mound (mountain) of snow to enter the parking lot.
I made it down the slope easily enough. Then I had to get over the mound of snow. Being short and lacking any athletic ability, I decided to straddle the mound and throw my back leg over the mound (much like getting on and off a horse). It was a nice idea. As I attempted to straddle the mound my front foot sunk is the fresh soft snow causing me to loose my balance and land straddled in the mound. I did manage to get my back leg through the pile of snow and drag myself upright and onto the parking lot. At this point I had snow all over my sweat pants and in my boots. I arrived snow covered, damp, and on time to the chapel. The way home was much easier now that I had blazed a trail.
March arrived and I managed to get myself freaked out and scared, necessitating driving instead of walking. (There were also some rainy thunderstorm nights.) So much of March through May I drove. Finally with a new resolve, I began walking to the chapel again.
I've discovered that there seems to be more activity in the summer late nights as compared to the winter. I often see a few cars driving down the road, some people walking, and even an occasional bike rider.
At the end of June as I walked across the parking lot to the chapel, I saw a jeep parked on the edge of the lot between the school and the rectory. I didn't think much of it because there have been several occasions when various vehicles have been parked somewhere on the lot. I do steer clear of the vehicles keeping a wide berth between me and them. I did this as well with the jeep but noticed that there definitely was someone in the driver's side of the jeep. As I nervously walked by; the person in the jeep had her window rolled down and said hello to me. I said hello and kept right on moving. At the end of my hour the jeep was still there and I just hurried on home.
Last night brought me to the conclusion that I'm not saving the Earth all that much by driving less than a mile round trip to the rectory. Last night before my daughter's bedtime I asked her if she wanted to go with me for my hour of adoration. She said yes so I found her a book about saints that she could read during the hour and packed it in my prayer tote bag.
The alarm goes off and I get her up so we can head off to the rectory chapel. A few cars drive by as we walk down the sidewalk. We cross into the parking lot and I noticed that one of the cars has entered at the far end of the lot where we are headed. The car is stopped with it's lights on just waiting. I'm quite suspicious and we stop walking. Then it looks like someone is getting out of the car. I grab my cell phone, tell my daughter that we are going home to get the car, and begin to input our home phone number into the phone in case I need to call someone. As we turn to head home the car backs up and turns around to come toward us. I tell my daughter to run home and get in the house. Like a good girl she takes off unlike my boys who many years ago when we had another scary situation stayed right behind me instead of locking themselves in the house.
The car pulls up to me and there are four girls in the vehicle. They say they are not from town and they are looking for a Mc Donald's. Do I know where there is a Mc Donald's? I gave them Mc Donald directions. Then they ask if they scared me and say they are sorry to have scared me. They obviously were not that sorry since I could hear them laughing as they drove out of the parking lot.
I looked up and my daughter is down the sidewalk ready to cross the road. (She should have made it home.) So I tell her to come on back and we head to the chapel. I put my phone away and we have a quiet peaceful adoration time. We walk back home and I see the lights are on in my house. Never have the lights been on. Everyone is asleep or trying to sleep when I leave and return. So now I'm once again on full alert.
We enter the house and Doug is up working on the computer. Evidently when I input our phone number, I think that I somehow dialed the house but hung up. Doug said that right after I left the phone rang and when he scrambled to get the phone there was a dial tone. The weird thing is that when I went to put my phone away the option on the screen was dial, message, cancel and I clicked on cancel. He tried to go to bed after the phone call but was worried about us. Then the weather radio went off warning of severe thunderstorms. Those events ended his sleep and he waited for us to get back home.
I put my daughter to bed and asked her if she was alright. Evidently she had fun and enjoy the quiet reflection time in the chapel. Keyed up from the adventures of the night and knowing that sleep would not happen anytime soon, I went out to take pictures of the Church. I had been wanting to get some new evening shots now that the Church renovations have mostly been finished. In all of the excitement I noticed that the parking lot lights in front of the Church were not on. Without the extra lighting, I hoped to get some clear night shots. I didn't know when I'd ever get another opportunity to photograph the Church without the exterior lighting. As long as I couldn't sleep I was counting on the fact that one scare (two-Doug with the lights on) for the night is all one gets. So I should be fine venturing back out into the night.
The nights have been very warm and humid here with day time temperatures in the 90's. As a result of the humid night my camera lens kept fogging up and I had to clean the lens take a picture or two, readjust the tripod, clean the lens and take more photos. As I moved to another spot for a long shot of of the Church another car pulls into the lot. I noticed right away that it was a police car, so I just ignored the car and continued to set-up my shot. I couldn't take the shot because the car's headlights were coming across the lens so I had to wait for the officer to pull up beside me. When he pulled up by me I lean into the window of the car and he says so you're taking pictures.? I reply that it's great lighting for some night photos. I then tell him to have a good night. He drives off. I take two more pictures and head home.
I'm pretty sure that I will now be driving to the rectory chapel.