Who is Chuck and why does he like to travel?

I was born to be a writer and when I wrote my novel Wild Point Island, Chuck, my orange and white recently rescued feral tabby, got it in his head that he wanted to travel to the island and see the place for himself. Well, of course, Wild Point Island, can only be seen by revenants (you'll have to read the book to find out who they are) and Chuck is no revenant so instead, I concocted a plan to take Chuck with me when I travel around the world, which I do frequently. Not an easy task. First, I have to deflate the poor kid of all air, stuff him in my carry-on bag, remember to bring my portable pump, and when I arrive, I pump him back up. Ouch. But he's used to it by now and given the choice to either stay home in his comfy cat bed or get deflated, he pulls out his passport, ready to travel, every time.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Father's Day Wish

Occasionally when you travel, you arrive at a place you know is special. The buildings look old and from another time. The vegetation is lush and a bit overgrown. Even the air feels different. A peace and calm overtake you as you wander the grounds. 

When Chuck, my rascal cat, and I arrived in Normandy, France, and made our way to the Abbaye Saint Wandrille de Fontenelle http://www.st-wandrille.com/, we expected, but were hardly prepared for, how very special this Benedictine monastery was going to be. 

Immediately I regretted that my father wasn’t with me to see the Abbaye. He, of all the people in my life, had a special connection with God. I imagined that in this place he would have felt as if he was in heaven.

St. Wandrille was a 7th century count who held a high position at the court of his King before he decided to give up the power and the fame and retire to the Abbey at Montfaucon in 629.  For ten years he dedicated himself to God before returning to Normandy and establishing the Abbaye at Fontenelle. 

The original basillica was dedicated to St. Peter, but it was destroyed by fire.  The Abbaye was built and re-built after it was destroyed over the centuries by Viking raids, lightning, fire, and even bombings during World War II.

In its heyday, over 300 monks lived there. It was known for its library and school. In 811 a monk and celebrated Mathematician hand copied four copies of the Gospels.  Today fifty monks live at Wandrille.

Over its long history, Fontenelle has produced thirty saints and “blessed persons,” which is quite astounding until you walk its grounds and breathe its air.  

We were lucky that day.  A group of us -- including Chuck, of course --were escorted inside the Abbaye to see the cloister, which is rarely shown to visitors.  A French monk led us into this sacred space, but there was no talking allowed.

We glimped the chapel where there are services still held.

We saw the ancient bells that still called members of the Abbaye to services.

As we wandered around, I thought of my dad.  He would have loved all of it.  The deep penetrating quiet.  The sanctity of the air, even. 

My dad passed away over ten years ago now, but I still think of the wonder he would have felt if he’d had the opportunity to see the Abbaye.



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