Thursday, September 15, 2005

Roamin' Catholic

Hello! Wanted to draw everyone's attention to the recent photo posting from my expedition to France and Germany on my Yahoo photos site, . I'm learning to not post a million pictures at one time, and to actually label them, which might make for a more enjoyable photo-viewing experience :). For those who don't know, I spent a week in France visiting the home of Marie-Aude, my co-UCU-volunteer friend who is from Cannes (home of the Film Festival) and Paris and then met up with some Grad/YP friends from St. Paul's and hopped a train to Cologne, Germany for World Youth Day, the first one with our new holy father, Pope Benedict XVI.

It was great, but strange, to get out of Eastern Europe for that brief interval. I could tell initially how burned out I was when, while relaxing at Marie-Aude's house in Cannes, I became a combination of angry and nauseous when I read work emails asking me to help people with stuff. The first time I realized I was on vacation was in the airport in Vienna on my way to France when I ate at a restaurant and had some lovely pasta and little gnocchi in butter sauce and some exquisite chocolate cake. Marie-Aude's (mother's) house was absolutely gorgeous and peaceful and I could have stayed there quite happily for the entire two weeks. We went around Nice and Cannes and went to an island off the coast of Nice where she and her mother go quite frequently - there's a very old Cistercian monastery there and we went to Mass there. Their chant is quite Byzantine sounding. It was very cool to be in a Cistercian monastery again, it's so plain compared to the Byzantine churches (which are very beautiful in their own way...).

Paris was cool -- some of it reminds me of parts of downtown Madison, some of it like parts of Lviv, some of it like nowhere I'd been. It was cool to see the famous places, but it was such a whirlwind tour and we hardly went to any of the regular tourist places. We did go to the church of the Miraculous Medal and Our Lady of Victories (important to St. Therese), and I got to Sacre Coeur which I really wanted to go to. We stayed for free (amazing) at Marie-Aude's friend's place and got to meet some of her best friends, which was cool. She went back to Cannes and I miraculously ran into the friends I was supposed to meet ahead of when I was supposed to meet them, about a half hour after Marie-Aude left me. Basically it would be a nice city to spend more time in in a far more relaxed way, but I did feel a bit out of my league there, small-town girl that I am ;).

But thankfully all connections went well and we got to Cologne and met all the folks so we had a group of ten at the end. We got to our assigned home stay parish in a suburb of Cologne (called Stommeln) and I ended up with three others at a wonderful family's home and we got pampered and totally taken care of all week, it was so great. Basically, World Youth Day's are amazing and wonderful things -- it's really amazing, even on a totally secular level, as a political or sociological or international relations or whatever thing that they get people from practically every country on the globe together in one place for a whole week. It's an awesome experience of "the Church", the Body of Christ, and it was cool to get to know our new pope a little bit. But man, I'm too old for these things :). There's a time when huge crowds and waiting and being smushed in a tram with a hundred smelly bodies and people singing very loudly in several other languages all around you, etc, is fun, and then there's a point where it's just something to be endured, and that was about the point I was at there. It was interesting though, having been at two others, to compare them, and I would say definitely go with a priest and an organized group. It was nice having a smaller group this time, but it wasn't nearly as spiritual an experience as I had before. Okay, time to go home for the night, more later. Love to you all! :) mb....................


Blogger bee2007 said...

So glad you enjoyed your time away! Have you stopped roaming yet? Sending you warm fuzzy thoughts and a little traveler's blessing wherever you are this minute. Love, cm

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