At 5:30am, no one else was up, but our indefatigable guide, Sindra, insisted we get into the city in the dark, park at a cafe and wait for sunrise, thus entering the basilica area as the sun crests the eastern hills to paint the facade with glory.
But here's the catch: no one was too happy to get up that early, nor quick on their feet as we stumbled in the dark toward Santiago. There was a bit of grumbling, uncertainty about arriving at the Cathedral in pitch darkness, and general temptation to dissatisfaction. To cure this, we began the rosary, but even that met with opposition. We got strung out, morning delivery trucks downed out our prayers, and sleepy heads were not entirely intentional (eg, they may have been praying with their hearts but their lips were definitely not moving).
But as we walked those dark streets, silent but for the early buses and trucks, the hand of God descended upon us. We didn't expect it, but it became deeply prayerful. The very distractions and oppositions lent wings to our prayer, or at least settled us comfortably into the grace of God. We sensed Him walking with us, in the midst of our human aggravations and frailties.
Emmanu-el. God is with us!