Sunday, October 24, 2010

Memories of Chartres

When I took the Veriditas Facilitator Training with Rev. Lauren Artress in May of this year, she mentioned the Veriditas programs held in Chartres, France.  In particular there was a one week program called "Walking a Sacred Path: The Spiral of Transformation" planned for the first week of September, 2010.  I was immediately drawn to the "idea" of going there.  I mentioned this in an email to a good friend - and she instantly replied and encouraged me to follow my intuition.  I was already going to Ireland for two weeks to visit cousins of my Mom's that I had met in 2008.  How hard would it be to add one more week and travel to France first?

As I planned my trip, I began to realize that I was going on a Pilgrimage, a special journey that I had to do on my own.  Here is a definition of "Pilgrims" that seemed particularly fitting:
"People passing through territories not their own, following their own spiritual compass".

My week spent in Chartres was simply magical!  Rather than staying at Maison St. Yves with the rest of the group taking the workshop - I stayed at a lovely B&B (Chambres d'hotes MFL) on rue Muret. 

Entrance to my B&B, built in the 17th century!
Each morning as I wandered up the hill, looking up at the awe-inspiring Gothic cathedral that towered over the landscape, I found it hard to believe that I was actually there. And continually thought how great it is when you follow your instincts and go and do something that you feel really drawn to do!
View of Notre Dame du Chartres from rue Muret
Early in the week,we had plenty of time to explore the Medieval village on our own.  After the morning workshop, I wandered each day and enjoyed spending time in a Horticultural Garden; picnicking by the Eure River; peering down interesting alley ways; walking through the Cathedral; sitting in sidewalk cafes savouring a perfect cafe au lait, having a glass of wine at the historic Le Serpentine Cafe! I was perfecting "the art of doing nothing", giving myself time to "just be".

Lovely tree with ivy ground cover at le jardin d'horticulture
Beauty beyond the wrought iron gate

Picnicking by the Eure River - bliss!
Another aspect of the trip to Chartres was the opportunity to go on a tour of the crypt and a tour of the cathedral.  And also the chance of a lifetime to walk the labyrinth at Chartres! We were very privileged to be able to participate in a private, after hours candlelit labyrinth walk on the Thursday evening.  The labyrinth at Chartres is covered by chairs during the week, and only during the tourist season (from May through to the end of  September) - the chairs are removed early on Friday mornings and promptly moved back over the labyrinth late in the afternoon.

The centre of the labyrinth is divinely lit from within!

The labyrinth at Chartres fully revealed, we are walking a well-travelled path!
I have been back from my travels for almost a month, and know that I have been affected profoundly by the whole experience! This message from a labyrinth card pulled twice during my week at Chartres sums it up nicely:
I walk in reflection of the completed lesson and I choose to move forward. I am at peace!

The view from Maison St. Yves, anything is possible!

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