I returned here to start my Camino with one of the most famous pilgrimage symbols worldwide. The journey, physical and spiritual, is encapsulated in the labyrinth. You wind this way and that, ever closer, ever further, not sure when you arrive. And when you arrive, do you really? You have to trace your steps back to leave. It's a journey to the center, the heart, and it leaves you perhaps in the same physical place but with a different experimental reality.
Since this is a healing focused pilgrimage, I realized how important it was to come. I wanted to acknowledge my privilege that I can make this journey and go for those who cannot, to be the labyrinth and walk with those who would if only they could.
The cathedral remains under construction so I at first was disappointed that I could not walk the labyrinth. I did, however, sit on the exposed parts and did a prayer for all of us on this journey. I also was wearing my Labyrinth shirt and traced the path with my finger tip. It's also a charm on my rosary which is on my daypack should I feel moved while walking.
It dawned upon me that the construction and restoration was a gift. Just as we are walking for healing and reconciliation, so too must the tools and symbols we use for such healing. The cathedral must be restored for it to offer assistance to others. So to must I.
And the fact that I could not walk the labyrinth just meant that I too must journey virtually with you. A pilgrimage isn't just a physical, somewhat tourist, expedition. It must reach deep and we must let it.
So I continued to the St Jacques tower in Paris to mark my journeys start. There was once a tremendous church near the Louvre across from Notre Dame Cathedral on the Rive Droit dedicated to St James the apostle. St James is St Jacques is Santiago (St Iago). It was destroyed during the French Revolution but the tower remains.
I sat at the park, said the pilgrim's prayer, and began to feel the weight of my expedition. I'm excited that I'm walking but even more so, excited and humbled, that you're walking with me.
So thank you. With you, Mary, and St James beside me, with Christ's restorative love as my focal point, and with the Holy Spirit guiding me, I am strengthened and given courage to journey. Merci. Merci.
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