Are we there yet?? Mini-Pilgrimage Day 2

The plan for today: morning prayer at Taize, quick visit to monastery ruins in Cluny, 4 hour drive to Chartres, Chartres cathedral and light show (yep, you read that right cathedral light show!). 

What actually happened today: morning prayer followed by video and gift shop shopping, monastery ruins followed by quick shopping trip through Cluny market and then lunch, almost 5 hour drive to Chartres (due to multiple stops) and cathedral light show.  We got there too late to actually go inside but ate at a cafe while waiting for it to get dark enough for the light show to begin.

Amanda really wanted to know more about the community at Taize so we stayed and watched a video which filled in a number of holes we had from attending the two services.  Then we had to wait for the gift shop to open (first setback of the day).  The monks do not accept donations and survive on selling pottery they make.  Needless to say we all left with some pottery.

Then it was off to Cluny which was just down the road.  There are ruins there from what used to be world’s largest monastery.  It was cool because they had this computer aided design that filled in the holes from the ruins you were seeing.  It certainly was one large place.  I knew we were in trouble when we saw a donkey carrying market purchases to a car in the parking lot before we ever got the ruins.  Amanda had been searching for a market since Rome and this was a genuine, local french market.  Thus the second setback of the day.  Market shopping!  We bought some goodies, got some lunch and set off.

Now I don’t consider a four drive far so it does not occur to me to warn people it is a four drive but apparently I should.  You would think we had a car of kids.  It was a beautiful drive through the French countryside.  And, when it was all said and done we had a lot of laughs and it was easy highway driving and thanks to the gps we never got lost so it was all good.  It was worth it when we pulled into Chartres and the entire back seat gasped when we got the first glimpse of the cathedral.

I admit to being skeptical about this light show.  Who lights up a cathedral built over a thousand years ago?  I completely and totally admit to being wrong.  It was the most amazing thing I have seen.  It was like nothing I had ever scene and utterly indescribable.  The real show is on the front of the cathedral but there are over 20 buildings lit up all over town.  It was a spectular way to end the day!

Lourdes to Taize – Mini Pilgrimage Day 1

Well we made it!!!  No one died, minimal drama and happy kids can only mean it was a successful pilgrimage.  This morning the group split and went their own ways.  This was really the best group we have taken anywhere and they were a great joy to be with.

My, now much smaller group, was headed for Lyon by train (7 hours) where we ate lunch and rented a car to drive another hour into the southern Burgandy region.  Our ultimate destination was Taize, France.  What is there you may ask?  Well, a community of ecumenical monks who support themselves by doing pottery and by running what is essentially a youth camp that integrates prayer, work and spiritual development.  We went for evening prayer service and their particular type of prayer involves a lot of chanting and silent prayer.  It was very interesting, and packed.

We missed the welcome video because we stopped for dinner and meals in Europe are never quick but it was delicious!!  Also the little hotel (Hotel Restaurant La Place) was amazing and we (my group now consists of me, Amanda, Amanda’s mom, our priest, and a nun – I know it sounds like the start of a joke…) all needed some serious decompression time as I have completely omitted the gritty details of our seven hour train ride.  I also neglected to mention what a beautiful city Lyon is, definitely need to go back there.  It was looking especially spiffy with the Tour de France due in the next day and Bastille Day on Sunday.  But I digress, I chose the sparkling pool complete with float for my chill out time.  It was just what the doctor ordered after two punishing weeks on the body!