Sunday, September 27, 2015

Memories of a Journey

The Joy Is in the Journey -- The Steeples of NE Iowa on the Way to Balltown & Pope Francis (Inspiration) 2015.

In 2013, a friend and I headed out from Cedar Rapids to head to Balltown to eat lunch at the historic Breitbach's Country Dining.  The original eating establishment, opened in 1852 - just six years after Iowa became the 29th state in the Union. It was a stagecoach stop for cross country travelers and in 1862 the Breitbach family bought the establishment and it has been in the Breitbach family ever since.  The restaurant has been continuously in operation for more than a century.  On Christmas eve in 2007 the restaurant burned completely to the ground.  The community got behind the family and the family rebuilt and reopened the restaurant to great acclaim.  The euphoric atmosphere lasted only 10 months.  On October 24, 2008 the restaurant was again on fire.  This time the decision to rebuild was a little more difficult but rebuild they did.  The history of this restaurant - their menu and all you might want to know about the restaurant can be found on their website at

Along the journey we decided to check out all the church spires - and here is what we found...

As we traveled through Worthington, Iowa we found this church steeple: St. Paul the Apostle.

Between the town of Worthington, and Dyersville was some beautiful trees that were just beginning to turn crimson and orange and golden yellow.  Beautiful.

 The Basicilca of St. Francis in Dyersville, Iowa has twin steeples.

New Vienna cam next on the route.  From a distance, the steeple on St. Boniface is impressive.  The next two photos are photographs taken from a closer vantage point.  The steeple was so tall that two photos had to be taken.

 This is the little chapel building that sits on the cemetery that is next to the church itself -- the cemetery sits on Church Street.

Pope Francis during his visit to the United States, September 26, 2015.
The last time a pope visited Iowa was an eventful day in 1979 when Pope John Paul II visited Iowa. Pope Francis will not (and did not) come to Iowa during his visit in 2015.  However, his mere presence in the United States and his inclusiveness brings us all - regardless of religious affiliation or non-affiliation, a reminder that our journey is not over with admiration for the church structure itself.  Our admiration must be for the way people bring beauty into their personal lives -- Christian, Jewish, Muslim, ... whatever one's belief... or non-belief we must care for our fellow human beings.  During Pope Francis's visit to the United States I wish he could have seen how the rural area of Iowa honored (and honors) the religious institution with its buildings from throughout the centuries.  And I wish he could have witnessed the caring people of Iowa.  But we all have much to do.

The buildings are beautiful.  But the work of humanity is not the buildings.  The work for our fellow humans is inside our own actions.
If we can just continue to follow Pope Francis's wish that we actually follow that beauty with gracious and good deeds toward our fellow humans here on Earth perhaps there will someday be peace and honor to all.

A very interesting day to tour Iowa ... and a reminder that each of us could do better for ourselves and for others.