I've been resisting posting about my France adventures. Not wanting to brag or seem egotistical. Not wanting to rub it in that I got to go on a trip like that solo and that yes, it was, in fact, an absolutely epic adventure. Not wanting to make a scene. Not wanting to speak up. Not wanting to be like "look at me, look at me!" Not wanting to dwell on the amazing-ness that's going down in my life when the world seems like it's falling apart.
FUCK IT. That's dumb. I actually have an obligation in some way to share about the journey to open my heart and be genuinely happy. Here goes....
Lourdes. Look, if you really want to tune into the energy of Mother Mary, consider going to Lourdes. I've never experienced anything quite like it. The grotto located below the church structure is where a young girl named Bernadette encountered what she considered to be Mary. Bernadette's faith in that experience has, decades later, created an amazing pilgrimage site. Throngs of people from all over the world (including tons of Indians who love all forms of divine Mother) come to experience the grotto, feeling its walls like a giant earthen vagina, areas of it dripping with spring water. And the big church on top is where an enormous Marian procession occurs nightly - completely candlelit, with thousands pilgrims singing Ave Maria in a multitude of languages. Those at the front of the procession are in wheelchairs, hopeful for real healing. And real healing has occurred in Lourdes. Documented cases of real healing. There's nothing like it. I'm so glad I went. Mary resides in me in a way I never could have imagined prior to my time in Lourdes. I'll be back, goddess willing.
And then there's St. Baume. Y'all. Holy cow. Allegedly this is where Mary Magdaleine lived the last years of her life - meditating in a cave after she fled the Holy Lands. I mean, who knows, right? I've researched a little bit on this and I feel like the jury is out on the historic validity of this claim. That said, Mary Magdaleine is alive and well in St. Baume! In me and in all those who make the journey.
In order to access the caves, you must walk (there are no roads) uphill through a forest of 3,000 year old trees (that's me above on the forest trail). Once inside the mountainside caves, there's an amazing sanctuary and shrine to both Jesus and Mary Magdaleine. Seriously, it was so cool to sit inside the cave and listen to hundreds of middle schoolers there for a field trip singing devotional hymns and chanting prayers. I met a very cool American woman named Lee Ann (along with her husband and son) from Milwaukee and we've stayed in contact now that we're both back in the States. This won't be my final mention of her. I suspect our paths have intertwined with great purpose.
It gets better. After a pretty exhausting (and hot!) hike to the tippy top of the mountain range, I entered a super tiny chapel to encounter this inside:
Whoa, right? A naked Mary Magdaleine covered by long hair and lifted up by a pair of cherubs! And such a modern rendition. Again, nothing like it.
Let's see, what else? I recorded the friars one evening chanting as I meditated in the pilgrim hostel's chapel. I managed my stick-shift rental car to and from St. Baume just fine - on French toll roads and winding switchbacks alike. I proved to myself (once again) that I can be joyously self-reliant in a foreign country - changing trains, navigating being vegetarian and so much more with an abundance of grace and ease. With 24 pages of single spaced typed journal entries, there's more to say. Much more. All in good time.
In the end, my week of contemplative, solo travel did my soul so much good. I'm revitalized and inspired. I take that revitalization and inspiration back into my Default World with gladness in my heart. And now? Scorpio season is upon us (finally! yay!) and I cheerfully prepare for another trip around the sun.
May it be so.
Periodic updates from Aurah in the Field.