Monday, 31 August 2009
We decided early on that this pilgrimage would not be a journey of deprivation, but rather one of celebration and joy. Two close friends, heart sisters, celebrating mid-life empowerment and vitality. Our day in Paris was carefully planned to be a time for relishing our sense of adventure as we anticipated the road ahead of us. We wanted to mark our course with a careful and meaningful setting of intention. Our anticipation ran high as the Eurostar whisked us out of England and across France. Arriving in Paris, the weather was glorious, the city beautiful. We were on our way! The Rue Saint Jacques, with its history of pilgrimage, welcomed us with familiar pilgrim symbols. We dropped our packs at our hotel, then wandered through the Latin Quarter on our way to Notre Dame, the spiritual beginning of our pilgrimage. We lit candles to dedicate our journey to the Divine Feminine, appreciating the scallop shells and amazingly beautiful depictions of Mary. Leaving the Notre Dame and its gawking tourists behind, we walked on, heading towards the Tower of St Jacques, the traditional gathering place for pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. Here we marked the beginning of our physical journey, feeling the presence of the centuries of pilgrims who had gone before us. It was peaceful and quiet in the little square park, full of Parisians enjoying a few quiet moments in the late summer sun.
From here, we took the Metro to Montmartre, home to the Basilica of Sacre Coeur, the beginning of our heart journey, and another opportunity to light a candle for the journey ahead, with all its internal and external implications. This was my point of coming full circle, my return to the exact spot where I had made my decision to reclaim my vitality so that I could say yes to all that Life has to offer. In 15 months, I had made good on my promise, had lost the 100 pounds (7 stone in British parlance) of weight that buffered me from fully engaging with life; Iwas here to accept the challenge and invitation I had given myself.
As the day grew to a close, we could feel ourselves shifting into Pilgrim Mode. We stumbled across a restaurant that intrigued us…. truly an ideal place to celebrate our departure. Located just off the Rue St Jacques, the walls were covered with scallop shells and we dined in true Parisian elegance, sipping champagne and feasting on beautifully prepared and delicious shellfish. Walking back to our hotel in the balmy evening air, only one thing remained to close out our day: we tied our scallop shells on our packs and went to bed.