Then we motored over to Bob and Olivia’s motor yacht/condo on the water. Their boat is close to our length, 43 feet, but it was one of the littlest in the marina. There was some BIG MONEY parked here. There wasn’t a dinghy dock for people to tie up to, only renters of slips are allowed. So Bob got special permission for us to enter the marina and tie up to their boat. They spent about 7 months here last year while Olivia recuperated with a broken arm. She broke it tripping on the dock in this marina. Things can happen so fast. Bob had all kinds of trivia about the boats in the area. Tiger Woods usually docks his boat here, which is about 170 feet long, but it is in the Bahamas at this time. Another 4 million dollar boat was a high school graduation present to someone.
We were checking out the ease of tying up to their boat so I could go to church for Christmas. I had gone to a church on the other side of the lake with a rental car last year and assumed I would go there on Christmas morning to avoid going to shore by dinghy in the dark. Olivia told me about another church walking distance from the marina. On the internet is came up as Our Lady of Florida Spiritual Center, A Passionist Ministry. It appeared to be a retreat center and part of the Catholic church. Olivia called them and they did have a mass Christmas Eve at 7:00. And according to the lady on the phone “it will be special and shouldn’t be missed”.
So while Dave and Bob shared a couple beers (Bob always offers you a beer), Olivia and I drove their car over to check out Our Lady of Florida. We saw on the door that there was a 7:00 pm mass and daily mass at 7:30 am Mon-Fri. Since everything was locked up, we walked around the grounds. They had 26 beautifully manicured acres right on the lake. There were a couple wings of what appeared to be motel rooms. We found out that there are 75 rooms for those on retreats.
|view of the grounds from a brochure
We found our way in, picked up some literature, and enjoyed the beautiful chapel decorated for Christmas. There was a whole wall of stained glass windows, which wouldn’t be as beautiful in the dark. So I was glad we checked it out.
It was now close to 4:00. We returned to our boat, started the water maker, ate leftovers, showered and returned to their boat in the marina by 6:30. Dave had agreed to go to church with me, which was a treat. Bob wanted to give us a ride to church and said he would pick us up. We decided to go early, otherwise Bob would have wanted us to have another beer with him before church.
The mass was lovely. It was nothing out of the ordinary, no choir, just an organist that led the singing. Maybe the attraction was the small size of the church and not as crowded as the other big Catholic churches in the area that were sure to be very crowded. We sat about mid way in the church. Those in front of us looked like they all came from big money dressed in dresses and suits. I was in capris and Dave in shorts. We looked a little under dressed, but still welcome and comfortable. During communion, we realized that the back half of the church was full of families with kids. It was a nice community. Not sure if these people were regulars or just visiting the area with families. A 7 year old brought the baby Jesus up and laid him in the manger at the beginning of mass. The priest introduced him and said he was from North Carolina.
We decided to walk back to the marina after church. It was a beautiful warm evening and there was a full moon. The last full moon on Christmas was 38 years ago in 1977. That was one week after our wedding. We were with family in Miller, SD. We began our 2 year honey moon in Germany on Dec 26, 1977, compliments of the United States Air Force.
Bob cast us off from his boat and wished us Merry Christmas. We returned to the boat in the dark. Thankfully, it was a calm night and the full moon helped light the way.