Just back to the safety of the hotel from a big dinner party. It has been a tearful sort of wrapping up of our trip. I can see why these guys are involved with this long term. All seems very rewarding.
Tomorrow we have a light day to pack our gear. There is Mass of course. Then in the afternoon there is another malade meeting. This is the second, the first one was a really bonding experience. Anyway, I plan on telling my one and only cancer joke tomorrow. Somehow I feel the need to inject some additional humor into this situation. There is something healthy about being able to laugh in a tough situation.
Ah, what is this my cancer joke? Well OK, ready? This guy falls off the roof of a six story building and as he is going by the sixth story windows and someone yells out, “Hey, how is it going?”. He yells back, “ Oh so far so good! “ And the guy goes by the fifth story window and someone yells out from the fifth story, “Hey, how is it going?” And he answers, “Oh so far so good! “ So you can see where this is going.
So as you are walking down the the hall at the hospital and your cancer buddy that knows the joke yells out, “Hey how is it going?” You know to yell back, “So far so good!” And that is what gets really funny! So it is all about living in the moment, for today and being happy. Who knows what is next?
Yea, off to dreamland now. A little too much wine and laughs. Buen Camino, so far so good loves, Felipe.
There is an underground church here that holds twenty five thousand pilgrims. This is where the whole shebang of the Order of Malta went to Mass this morning. It was a service open to anyone but by the dress I would say that it was ninety percent people of the world wide order. They all have a sort of uniform that varies slightly country by country and then everyone has a dress up robe that is the same everywhere and was designed before the 1500’s I think.
Anyway, Communion was served to all those people in this giant space. Twenty five thousand took Communion! The numbers here are truly mind boggling. Lourdes is the second most visited city in France after Paris, speaking of numbers.
This afternoon we had a closed session meeting for all the fifty malades that are in our group from Western US. It was two and a half hours of malades talking of there personal journeys. All pretty heavy duty. Have to mention that one of the basic qualities of the people they choose to go as a malade on this pilgrimage was “ having a life changing illness.” Yes, I can relate to that.
Tonight there was an international party and I went to that with some of the folks here at the hotel. It had all the countries there. It was packed with foreign knights and dames and had more wine than you could keep up with.
So yea, I survived another day of festivities and worship. Tomorrow we are off on a bus trip up into the Pyrenees. It is beautiful looking up there with all the snow.
Doesn’t happen too often that one gets a medal but today was our day. They handed out out medals to all the malades and caregivers. So I am wearing mine now, proudly.
I am way behind on describing all the goings on. The Order is putting us through a lot of experiences, as much as they can providing the time and the weather. Last night’s Candlelight Procession was exceptional. There were malades and caregivers and Knights and Dames from all over. Every country in Europe and many others were represented. There is even the country of Malta which I am trying to connect with.
Anyway, I feel like I am finally over my jet lag which is helpful. And despite all the hoopla and goings on I am trying to figure out what is really important here and what is the take away. What is the basic idea that is being presented to me. I am slowly realizing that it is roughly the words that Mary said at Cana, “do whatever He tells you.” Mary always points to Jesus.
I was out by the river in one of the more secluded areas of the Domain (the acreage that is offically the grounds) and was very happy to watch the water go by. Right now I crave some communing with nature and some quiet.
Also some of the hotshot young knights have been doing drone shots of the place, daytime and nighttime. I am going to get the links to those for you. And the Padre has been taking short videos of us and surroundings at eye level so I will get some of them to you.
Have to tell you that last night I had dinner with the Bishop (of Sacramento) and the head Medical Officer for this trip. More doctors, lawyers and Indian chiefs. And we spent most of that time taking about what? Why the Camino of course! Who are you talking to but Felipe.
Today I had a great time talking with a Marine Corps vet who was in at the same time as I was. We had lunch and gabbed for another hour in the bar. He has a sailboat and I may had a trip in my future.
OK, have to wake Padre up from his nap. He is sawing logs here and we need to be assembling for the next activity.
There is a website for the “Order of Malta Western Association” describing this pilgrimage. Maybe check that out in your spare time. There are three main groups of the Order in the US and the Western Association is this one that I am with. The other two are here at Lourdes also and we were all together for that big Mass yesterday afternoon.
We are off later to do another Mass and then this evening is the famous candlelight procession. We have only 30% chance of rain for that. There is also somewhere a Lourdes live link to everyone going through the grotto. I don’t know what it is at the moment but maybe I can ask around.
Last night in an hour of sleeplessness I had a meeting with my tumors. I did the night before but forgot to report on it. It seems like an odd thing to bring up now but we have talked of it before. And now here in Lourdes I am striving to connect my inner with the inner of Mary. Well, last night I did invite Mary to go with me to to this meeting. These meetings always have essentially a nonverbal quality. More later.
Padre looked up the links for the live cam and found three:
OK, have to run we are off to do the stations of the cross. Love, Felipe.
OK, am writing this post in the evening to describe today before we are off for more stuff in the morning. We were in the Immaculate Conception Basilica this morning for foot washing. Padre washed and kissed my feet. I don’t know what to say but it was very moving. We got a rosary there and did Confession. I just did Confession at home but figured I needed the practice. Father Jordan, a Dominican priest was helpful with a fumbling Felipe. Then we returned to the hotel for lunch and to warm up.
In the afternoon we did the famous dunk. That was breathtakingly cold water. I prayed for all the malades that were too sick to make the trip as I went under. Coming out there are no towels, just get dressed and get marching. But it feels good to have that water all over you and be moving.
After that at the we entered the Rosary Basilica with maybe two thousand other pilgrims. It was all the people that had come from the US. It was a Mass with seven bishops and dozens of priests celebrating. It was a big show. I had dinner with one of the bishops last night, hobknobing.
It is raining and will be for a while. They are expecting the river to start flooding the lowlands. That doesn’t look like the little stream that Bernadette crossed in the film “Song of Bernadette”. There is a lot of water right now looking for the fastest way downhill.
Tomorrow more big stuff and it is topped off with the nighttime candlelight procession. Will be back to give you the exciting details. Time for me to get out of the bar and off for some sleep. Still trying to catch up.
First full day of activities here at Lourdes. Raining outside but nice and warm in here in the bar. Just having a cafe con leche with the Padre. We are back from foot washing and confession in the Cathedral. Next is lunch then back to get dunked in the healing waters. All very moving.
There are numerous knights, dames, priests and nuns that I am traveling with. They are all very competent and accomplished. It all makes me feel like a artist. Yes Father I have a trail where I paint with mud. Catalina is right, I am a land artist.
Having fun with the Padre. He seems an artist too. He paints with rough and tumble fellows like myself. Padre a man of the soldiers and sailors. He knows about mud.
Learning from the Padre too. Sometimes he is too rough and tumble for me. He gets me outside my comfort zone. He is a reminder that things are way bigger than I am, all in a good way, an exciting way.
I am going to put a wrap on it for now. Time to socialize as we wait on lunch. Be back later, clean feet loves, Felipe.
This is an Airbus A 340.We are learning how to put on our life vests in French.Hope I really don’t have to do it for real.This is Air TahitiNui airline and we are going up over Greenland on our way to France.It feels like we are all off to camp, that’s a good thing.Synchronistic events are happening that are very interesting.Yes, I am on a pilgrimage.Yes, something important is occurring.Pay attention and let it happen Felipe.
They are serving food here momentarily.I trust the French to come up with something yummy.I smell something wafting through the air.This is an eleven hour flight and we have to come up with ways to entertain ourselves.Eating will keep us busy for a while.
I can feel it that old pilgrim thing of living close with others that you barely have just met.Sort of letting your space be infringed on continually.Just relax and keep smiling.They are all good people and they will be your companions for an extended period so get into it. We are all in the same litter of puppies and we are all in a pile.
Padre has been fabulous.He is my caregiver, handler and shepard for the trip.So glad that he wanted to go and take on this challenge.And it’s all so far so good.
Oh, what a fabulous airline dinner.Had chicken with mixed veggies and rice.There was a hard roll and butter.Cheese from Tillamook, all the cheese in France and we got cheese from Oregon, yea I like it.There was a corn salad with shrimp on top.There was cheesecake.And best of all free wine.
Well, our team leader was suggesting that we get some sleep but I’m just getting wound up.Half the people in the plane are up in the aisles talking to the other half so I don’t see hardly anyone following that advice.
Well, eight hours to go loves, Felipe.
PS ~ We’re here!Safe flight and bus ride completed.