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Well, really I’m not. I’m back home now, and the children have just gone to bed, most of them, after some moments of franticness over a white shirt a certain personage of this household has to wear to march with the Holy Crusaders in the Eucharistic procession tomorrow morning. Yes, yes, I washed it. Yes, yes, I dried it. No, no, I didn’t iron it; I don’t iron anything.

I’m not sure why I’m bothering to blog this evening’s events, because most of the things which we witnessed and experienced had only tangentially to do with the Eucharistic Congress. We were late leaving home, late gathering up my husband at work, late getting dinner, late missing our exit on I-85, late driving up and down one-way streets in Uptown Charlotte in the rain looking for the Convention Center which, let’s face it, is just one more big shiny glass-and-metal building in a city of big shiny glass-and-metal buildings, the giant flashing “Charlotte Convention Center” sign out front notwithstanding.

We arrived in time for the end of the diocesan choir’s program: they were singing an arrangement of “O God Beyond All Praising,” which my children have taken to calling “The Eucharistic Congress Theme Song,” as we came floating in familial splendor down the escalator.

Unfortunately, our descent was interrupted unexpectedly by — and the party involved shall remain nameless for perpetuity, though by now everyone we know knows all — the wedging of a Croc, which this party was wearing, into the mechanism of the escalator about two-thirds of the way down. As we now know, there are multiple lawsuits pending in regard to the entrapment of Crocs in escalators, (so the Manolo is right!) but of course we didn’t know that when we got on the escalator, nor did we anticipate, though perhaps we should have, this party’s poking his (or her) foot into the crack between the moving staircase and the escalator wall as he (or she) rode down.

We feel very lucky that the party in question escaped with his (or her) toes intact; meanwhile, the escalator at this writing is still jammed. I can say this with authority, because the building engineer, whom the security people called when the escalator in-croc-ization occurred, couldn’t get the Croc out, and they had to call the escalator company, and they don’t come out on rainy Friday nights, apparently.

So if you happened to be there tonight, and you noticed that one of the down escalators was roped off — or possibly you were behind us and wondered why the ride came to such a complete halt so abruptly — well, now you know.

As you can imagine, our listening pleasure in re: “O God Beyond All Praising” was somewhat compromised by the conversation we were having with the building engineer. But I think it was probably beautiful.

The keynote speaker for the conference is Immaculee Ilibagiza, survivor of the Rwandan genocides of the mid-1990s. And, you know, what is there to say? This woman spent three months hiding with seven other women in a three-by-four-foot bathroom while Hutu death gangs searched for her, and if she says that we all ought to pray the rosary, then I think probably we all ought to pray the rosary.

Clearly she has told her story many times in the intervening years, as well as recounted it in a book, Left to Tell. The book, like the talk she gave tonight, has an unfinished, even uncrafted, extemporaneous feel to it: it’s just “this happened, and then this happened, and then this happened.” And yet what it recounts, what did happen to her, in terms of both harrowing escapes from death and experiences of God’s aid and protection, is remarkable. You can argue with an apologist; it’s a lot harder to argue with someone who’s simply a witness and a walking testimony.

After the keynote address, the gathering broke up. Our friends Stephen and Josh were going over to St. Peter’s Church, where there’s all-night Adoration going on; as they said, there really wasn’t anything else to do, and it beat driving home. Some year we’ll stay, but this year we had tired short people dragging on our arms, not to mention an unnamed party in one shoe.

More tomorrow, if we’re still standing.

More on: Books, Shoes

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