Cindi Rinehart – The sisters of Cabrini Shrine
By Cindi Rinehart
“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in wood and I…
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
That is the last stanza of one of my favorite poems called “The Road Not Taken,” by Robert Frost. I can recite it in my sleep but little did I know how close the last line came to defining me. And here I am, by golly, ‘ages and ages hence,’ telling you the story of how, literally choosing the road less traveled, changed the entire course of my life.
I had a show in Columbus, Ohio on Warner Qube television. The show was called “Soap Scoop” and was a one hour talk show about soap operas I loved the show but 2 years into it Warner Cable shut down the studios and I was soon living on blow up furniture, martini’s and hamburger helper. While looking for work, I would occasionally call my ex-producer/best friend, Pat in Seattle and whine about not being able to get a job.
One day I told Pat that I just can’t get arrested and she said, “Why don’t you come out to Seattle?” I said, “sure, you’re a big time producer, can you get me a job?” She bluntly said that she couldn’t. I said, “What am I supposed to do? Sell my plastic furniture, jump in my convertible Chrysler, drive over 3,000 miles to say hello?” She said, “Why not?” I said, “Why not, of course! “ That was that. Two days later, I was headed West!I jumped on the freeway with my tunes blasting and my Jack Daniels tucked by my side.
The trip was going swimmingly well until one afternoon I started shaking uncontrollably while I was driving. I pulled over and tried to shake it off. What was happening to me? My heart started pounding like a steel drum in my chest. This wasn’t like me. I was the fearless one, the warrior woman, the girl who ran with the wind! I suddenly burst into tears that wouldn’t stop. I felt my whole body just drain of everything, leaving nothing but sickening, achy emptiness. I can’t go on, I thought. This is it. I’m going to die today. With that came waves of what? Fear? Grief? I didn’t know.
Somehow I got to a phone booth and called my friend Pat, collect. I could barely get a sentence out. I remember bawling that I thought I was going to die that night, “You are not going to die,” she said loudly. “But, I can’t breathe, my heart is in my throat and beating so hard I can hear it,” I wailed.“Where are you,” she asked. “I don’t know,” I cried. “Somewhere around Denver I think. I don’t know, I don’t know where I am.”“Cindi, stay with me!” she demanded. “Look around you right now and tell me everything you see!” “Mountains,” I cried. “There are just mountains everywhere.” “What else do you see?” “God, Pat, I’m near some shrine.” “A shrine?” she shrieked. “You’re near a shrine? What kind of shrine? Does it have a name? Look for a name!”I was slowly getting my breath back. Pat’s questions were bringing me back to the “now” and slowly back into my body. “It says Cabrini Shrine,” I managed.“There’s a Cabrini Hospital here in Seattle,” she said. “It was started by a Saint…a lady saint! Cindi, you have to go to the shrine. The nuns will take care of you. Promise me you will make your way to the Cabrini Shrine!” “Okay, but Pat, I’m so scared. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Pat said in a whisper,” Go see the Cabrini Shrine right now and the nuns will help you. Just get up to the Shrine.”I did. Slowly I made my way up to the shrine and to the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. l was completely deflated, my spirit void of anything. It was as if I were a piece of fruit whose flesh had been peeled away with a paring knife. The emptiness throbbed.
I made it to the shrine and told the nuns that I just couldn’t go on. I told them I felt like I was dying and about the emptiness I felt.
They gathered around me and talked every so softly telling me it was going to be alright. I wanted nothing more than to jump in my cute little convertible and head back to Ohio to the comforts of home, safe and secure.Then the nuns told me, “Wait. Before you turn around, please climb the one hundred steps to the actual Shrine and pray by the statue of Jesus.” I climbed those one hundred steps with sweeping views of the Rockies everywhere. I prayed and prayed. I just poured out what was left of me .Suddenly an overwhelming sense of calm came over me with a voice that whispered, “You’re on the right road. Go. Go and get your good. You deserve it.” That was it! I raced down the steps, hugged the nuns goodbye and jumped in my car and headed toward the sunset.I was still on the highway for Seattle but now I knew I was going there as a fresh, new soul. I had left all my family and friends behind, I had, in effect, emptied the old Cindi. It would take time to fill myself up with new times, but I was on my way. I hit Seattle two days later and have been here ever since. If you’re ever near Golden. Colorado, please stop in and tell the beautiful Sisters of the Sacred Heart, thank you again for helping me on my life-changing road less traveled.