Sunday, June 24, 2007

poulet, poisson, frites s'il vous plaît

[scrap what i said, at 1am, about sleeping. come monday, falling asleep at 6am and waking up at 130pm is not an option! argh freaking jetlag!! argh, freaking school!!]

before anywhere religious, we found ourselves frolicking in front of the eiffel tower and basking in the pretty parisian sunlight. there was also this irresistable urge to photograph Anything with french words on it, to prove that i'm finally there after the long tortuous flight. ooh, and people walking around with baguettes, which is basically everyone la.

[everybuddy, brace yourself for a big buncha saint names and french places.]

on to see the incorrupt remains of st catherine/st vincent de paul and st bernadette's convent in nevers, staying the night at paray le monial, where the sacred heart of Jesus appeared to st margaret mary before heading to ars (heehee, there's a place called ars) to visit the shrine of st john vianney, passing through lyon's beautiful stretches of vineyards and finally landing up at valence in the southeast of france. the next day was a shitty 9 hour bus ride westward, to lourdes.

view from room in paray le monial - a rainbow to greet me :)

stayed in lourdes for 3 days. lourdes is located near the pyrenes mountains and the view was damn good. importantly, we visited the grotto where st bernadette saw the apparitions and dug up a stream that's grown into one mother fast flowing river and had mass in the chapel built as the Lady requested. besides that, we climbed a hill to do stations of the cross, attended international mass with a few thousand people from all over the world in all languages, and candlelight processions in the night (it's so bright even at 9pm cos it's summer.) the people who helped out with the sick and disabled are an inspiring lot, because they do this without want for recognition or reward. i also went for the bath which was disappointing. Before the bath my mind was racing and my heart was pounding like crazy, and the volunteers (i'm going back there to help one day!) were kind and super respectful. but the moment i hit the water it was too cold to think or feel and mainly i was too shocked to do much except chatter my teeth and wait for the volunteers to help dress me haha. sheesh. but, there were many others who were truly touched during the bath; to each his own.

my overall impression of lourdes is that it draws so many people that it somewhat destroys the atmosphere because of their intentions when they come. like many, i came with petitions and selfish requests too. but the wonder of the miracle that happened, along with the fervour and faith of the thousands there - something a bit like a calling and something a bit like peer pressure but not so simple, and not in a negative sense - ultimately stirs your heart. and it was there that i made my first confession in millions of years; a weight lifted, at long last. i left lourdes feeling renewed and reaffirmed. maybe it isn't so much the need for proof, but the fact that i've been taking for granted all of God's graces. hasn't He already given me/us enough, in the form of family, friends, love?

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