Continued from Page 1...
Seeing my old friend getting a new facelift is pretty amazing!
She's a grande dame and deserves taking care of, but the cost of cleaning and restoration can be overwhelming for the cathedral society in Chartres which takes care of the cleaning and restoration process.
There are many areas on the exterior that have been restored since I was here in 2005, and I'm delighted to see this new face of the cathedral. It's like seeing the cathedral as it might have been the date it was finished!
Exciting for me...and I've made an important discovery! There are little recesses in the pillars of the cleaned and restored areas that house escaping gargoyles.
These are so amazing! They were not visible before the restoration, because they were covered with centuries of dirt and grime.
Here are a few examples of my lovely discovery...
Look at this darling little gargoyle, screaming to get out!
Here's his little buddy, wanting to escape also!
This is the pillar base that houses those little darlings...
After walking around the exterior of the cathedral, taking photos of the scaffolding and the before-and-after restoration areas of this lovely old church, it's time to go inside and visit my labyrinth. There are so many people walking the path of this labyrinth that there is hardly room for me, so I sit in a chair in the gallery, waiting for a smaller crowd...or better yet, no crowd at all!
Now, I want you to take a good close look at my next image of that labyrinth...
Notice anything out of the ordinary?
Neither did I when I was taking these images, but when checking them out later that evening while downloading my photos for the day, I was shocked to see a few dozen orbs in the photos.
In the labyrinth...
Why am I not surprised?
After all, there must be many spirits of people who've walked this labyrinth over the last several centuries that are still hanging around the area, and seeing them in orb formation is just mindblowing for me...also, please notice the large filmy areas located in the dead center of the labyrinth, as well as a second one on the right side of the photo. I think that must be a cluster of a few orbs hanging out together with their friends!
As more people join in the labyrinth walking today, the orbs dissipate until there are only a few left. You can see in this next image how the orbs have begun to leave the area...
And, now, with more people coming into the labyrinth, there are only a couple of orbs brave enough to stay and visit...
Finally, the crowd clears.
I take my place in the entrance to the labyrinth.
I begin my walk.
Step, step, pause...
Step, step, pause...
This feels so familiar to me now. The first time I walked this labyrinth, it was very emotional for me. Now, although I've only walked this labyrinth twice before, it really feels like coming home to be here.
It takes about 15 minutes to reach the center of the labyrinth. There are a few others standing in the beam, so to speak. No one speaks, there is just a respectful silence within this small group.
Giving thanks for my health, my life and the people in it, and my blessedness in being able to make this trip to Chartres, I kneel to touch the heartstone of the labyrinth, then standing, I turn and begin the long walk out of the labyrinth.
Now there are a large number of people joining in the walk, and as last time, it amazes me how different people have different ways of walking...
An older man walks barefoot, carrying a lighted red votive candle in his hands. It is one of the candles from the votive stand at the back of the cathedral. He walks with his eyes closed for the most part, only opening them once in a while to see where the path is taking him.
A woman, also barefoot, also carrying a lighted red votive candle, walks just behind the man, keeping him close to her as if protecting him or supporting him.
He is very frail and thin, almost gaunt in appearance. He appears very ill and this day seems to be a kind of pilgrimage for him. Every time I look his way, there is a small smile on his face and the word beatific comes to mind. He looks as if he is seeing something or knows something beyond the rest of us, as if this is truly an otherworldly experience for him.
A small child, a girl about five or six years old, skips through the pathway, laughing lightly and watching where she places her feet as she skips. What a joy to watch her! She has the natural beauty of a little child, with dark curly long-to-her-shoulders hair held back from her face by a red and white polka-dot headband. Unaware that anyone is watching her, she appears to be totally within the moment, entranced by this process.
Five teen girls walk single file ahead of me along the path...and they are talking to their friends on five cell phones, giving blow-by-blow accounts of their walk! The modern world has arrived, even here inside of this ancient cathedral in Chartres...amazing!
As I complete my walk and exit the labyrinth, I'm conscious of a feeling of peace and total calmness inside of my solar plexus. There are no tight spots in my back anymore, no little headache-y places under my scalp and absolutely no feeling of worry or concern about anything at all. This is a good thing! Now, how to build my very own labyrinth at home. Or, is this feeling of peace and calm generated by the energy of the cathedral and the labyrinth? I don't know the answer to this. I only know that I don't find this feeling anywhere else in my world.
...to be continued....
"The Labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral is a hidden treasure. It was placed in the West end of the Nave around the year 1201. It is a forty-- two foot, circular pattern, inlaid in brown quarry stone with black onyx to outline the path. This type of labyrinth-which is flat to the floor-is called a pavement, or church labyrinth. The labyrinth is often confused with a maze, yet it is exactly the opposite. A labyrinth has one path that starts from the outer edge and winds its way, in a very circuitous route, to the center The word for meditation in Latin is meditere, which means 'to find the center.'" ~ Phoebe Griswold