We're back, after a round of 'Spot the Secret Service Sniper'. Two on the “battlements” of Gibbons Hall; three in the colonnade of the Basilica dome. I want to go up in the dome. Why can't I go up in the dome?
Peggy quote of the day, in the course of spotting snipers where none in fact are: “I'm starting to see people everywhere!” Yeah, Peg. You're only in the middle of a crowd of THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE.
More signs: 'CUA Welcomes the Pope' (homemade banner on Gibbons Hall); 'WE LOVE YOU'; 'You Bring Us Hope'; ‘Srohe Geburtstag’ (close; a good try; but...) 'Happy Birthday Benedict!' It's someone else's birthday too. I just can't think whose... One of the Sisters has a yellow-and-white garland. (An Indian way of greeting a guest, roughly, for those of you who don't watch Lost.) She won't get close enough to him, nor he to her, but still. The cheers have started up in the past few minutes - “Gimme a B!” “B!” Etc. “When I say Holy, you say Father!” --- “When I say Happy, you say Birthday!” Those two went from one side of the barricade, by the Basilica, to the other side on the CUA lawn. We're about a half-hour out from the Pope coming, and the kids behind us are getting restless. Every now and then, one leaps up at a cheer, or whatnot, and exclaims that the Pope is coming. So far, nope. A young boy just came up, exclaimed “Hi Sisters!” and squirmed up to the railing. He's cute – 7 or 8, and very talkative. I guess he knows the Sisters from the Brookland house. A police copter has started circling overhead – definitely not long now.
Bee not afraid! Or, per Juli - “Bee 16!” (I think I just did something to my side.) Okay – it's gone. We cleared inspection. Though, there are plenty of steely-eyed Secret Service around – one is right across the barrier, facing us. For a reference point – we're on the side lawn of the Basilica facing CUA, fairly close to the front of the Shrine.
Well, I'll give them points for trying? This sign across the way: “[Women are] the Answer to the Priest Shortage” was held by four men. Me, I think thy just want the women to do all the work. How do they know they aren't part of the answer? Other signs migrated in front of them over the past few minutes – they've done a fair job of covering it, but it was simply a much higher sign. Eh well. Sorry, Your Holiness? There were plenty of catcalls and chants of “Hide that sign! Cover that sign!” from people close by us, but now that the bells announcing the Pope coming have begun to toll, we're all just waiting for that. Even the sign-holders, I daresay.
Note: As of now, I'm journaling after the fact – writing while standing in a crowd was rather logistically difficult. I'm pretty tired right now – but what a day! :)
Cutting finally to the chase – the Pope was heralded first by the Basilica bells, then by umpteen police cars and K-9 units and motorcycles. When he did pass by – it was so fast. Even given that he was in the Popemobile. He was smiling a little, turning from one side to the other to bless us. I like to think that he was looking at me when I shouted “Happy Birthday!” - then shouted it again, for lack of anything better to call out. He got out at the main side entrance, where a red carpet was laid, went up the steps and in. Evidently he turned back at the top to wave to the crowd across the parking lot; hence the loud cheer right at the last. And that was it. Soon there, too soon gone.