Friday, August 2, 2013

Resting in the shadows of the Chartres Cathedral



The longevity of awe...and the quietude buried within peace. These were the two thoughts echoing in my mind with the gentleness of passing a feather from one palm to the other while I was sitting in the Chartres Cathedral. We were in town for a wedding, a new beginning but I couldn't stop thinking about the past. 

I had sat in these pews years ago. Then, I was buoyed by the weight of the beauty surrounding me but this visit I realized that something far heavier was at play. How must the cathedral have loomed above the fields to the pilgrims that spied its spiers from afar, starting in the 12th century. It was the journey of a lifetime and the stories of its might travelled home with them, blessed. How many days had passed since then, light into dark again, shown and known by being lit from within. Nearly all of the windows were installed by 1240 and they still shine jewel-like, having been spared the ruthless bombing the town saw during World War II in 1939 when each pane of glass was wisely removed as the German troops advanced. These vitruax could inspire belief in God or other, definitely of something higher and better, in anyone. For awhile, I sat and watched each visitor as they would tilt their heads up and become still with the effort of trying to understand. And then I closed my eyes and listened to the whispers of shuffle and flow. I could have been there for years, a sigh on the timeline and a shadow of the efforts that had gone into creating such awe...such peace. 

On the tympanum above the Royal entry, some wise bird has built his nest just above the statue of Christ's head, a tilted halo to the holy. He understood, perfectly.














As I have mentioned previously, I am not a Christian but such sacred sites have and continue to inspire me, regardless of the faith housed within. Yes, faith remains and creates a bond, a link to life.

And while this is not a post of popsicles, it does seem appropriate for summer, a time of year when expansion is at its apogee...an expansion in all directions then, backwards and forwards, in and out with steady breath.

Wishing you a peaceful weekend ahead...



...and thank you for all of your kindness of late. 

42 comments:

  1. It always amazes me that people can make such beautiful buildings.

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    1. And so long ago, Mr. Laoch. Have we truly progressed in architecture since then? Methinks not...

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  2. We visited Chartres last April on a very bright sunny day so the colors reflected on the columns and the floor were full spectrum rainbows. My very first visit was in 1969, and I visited there with my daughter in the late 90s. What I have always loved about visiting there is the feeling that you are back in time as the houses and streets around the cathedral are still the same. Having lunch, or tea sitting across the street is a unique experience. This past April's visit was more eye opening because so much of the cathedral has now been cleaned inside and out and the original golden hue of the stone really warms up the atmosphere. It is a truly moving experience walking through the aisles. (no pun intended)

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    1. I agree with you entirely, Richard on all counts. We spent so much time within the cathedral and walking around Chartres afterwards that we didn't have time to sit at one of the restaurants for lunch (as we had previously) but rather grabbed sandwiches and sat on a bench--the view was that of the second to last photo. The sun came out at just that moment and it was just so beautiful to sit and take it all in. No one was around, just us and the stones...

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  3. how very beautiful I especially love the image with the stone floor. I recently took our son Luca into a Church in Saluzzo and he was awe struck, we sat silently together in the back pews taking it all in. Just a lovely moment for us and I wasn't sure how he would take it, I'm not a church goer but love the feeling and was so impressed that my nine year old son felt that as well. xx

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    1. I am too. But that speaks to the universality of such spaces, doesn't it?

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  4. I especially enjoyed you including the white roses in one of those shots. Beautiful photos...as always...Janey

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    1. Janey, the gardens both in front and behind the cathedral were absolutely gorgeous. Very layered and carefully planned. Beautiful.

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  5. Lovely, quieting photographs of this incredible cathedral--they incarnate the cathedral far better than any of the photographs of it that I have seen in books and prints. It is such a privilege to see through your eyes and heart, Heather! Leslie in Oregon (off to Seattle for the weekend)

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    1. Thank you so much, Leslie! That is quite a compliment. :)

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  6. Beautiful images and words. Thank you - warm regards

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    1. Lovely to have you here EE--are you in France right now?

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  7. I've always loved Chartres Cathedral and was absolutely thrilled to learn that the house we fell in love with (and bought) in Blois has a little window with a cabochon from the cathedral. When they were renovating the windows, there were some bits and pieces such as our cabochon that were removed and sold. Our previous owner was a locksmith so was able to make the little window.

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    1. Wow. That is absolutely amazing. It really is. You must appreciate that so much!

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    2. Yes, we feel very honoured. I have included your post in my Wednesday's bloggers round-up. I hope that's OK. http://www.aussieinfrance.com/2013/08/date-night-patisserie-des-reves-resting-in-the-shadows-of-the-chartres-cathedral-how-i-paid-just-925-for-my-first-class-airfares-and-railpass-for-europe/

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    3. It is one of our prized possessions! I've included your lovely post in my Wednesday's bloggers round-up. I hope that is OK. http://www.aussieinfrance.com/2013/08/date-night-patisserie-des-reves-resting-in-the-shadows-of-the-chartres-cathedral-how-i-paid-just-925-for-my-first-class-airfares-and-railpass-for-europe/

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  8. Yes faith does remain; it is somehow imprinted on the land, the stones, the air and we feel it, no matter what our faith is, or isn't. I feel the sacred flowing within and throughout your photos. Our sacred spaces are mostly gone. I used to sit in our Cathedral simply for the sense of communion in something bigger than myself. This week marks the opening of our transitional Cathedral. I wonder how it will feel to be in a building that has no history of prayer, no ancient soul. The land on which it is built has absorbed prayers for decades; will that filter through? The transitional Cathedral is made partly of Cardboard.http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/8996908/Cardboard-cathedral-finally-unveiled Gallivanta

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    1. How interesting, G. Cardboard? I love the colors too. Very uplifting. And yes, I do appreciate the sense that sacred spaces tend to last in this part of the world. And agree heartily with you that faith is imprinted on the surroundings. We have visited ruins of churches here that still have it. I will be curious if you feel the past in the present of your new Cathedral.

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  9. Lovely Heather... and whatever our beliefs these amazing architectural masterpieces and hallowed halls, resonate... and it would seem quite loudly... Have a happy weekend... xv

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    1. Thank you, Vicki I hope that you did too. So incredible to read about the giant leap forward, architecturally, that was required to make this Cathedral happen--also a leap of faith!
      xo

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  10. Lovely. You made me get down my copy of Henry Adams' "Mont-Saint-Michel & Chartres," privately printed in 1905 (almost 1904) and published in 1913. A wonderful little book if you by some chance don't know it. Thank you for the reminder, XXXX G

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    1. Ooh, a discovery! Thank you, dear George for no, I did not know of it. But it is possible to read it online for free at Project Gutenberg. Will take a look see beyond the beautiful opening line, "The Archangel loved heights."

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  11. Beautiful photos as always Heather. You've definitely captured the wonder of the place - I'm constantly amazed at the work it took to build such magnificent structures and the devotion as well. Have a great weekend. Jackie xo

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    1. I am grateful to have read "The pillars of the Earth" to have a bit of understanding--even if it only tiny! Thank you for the compliment too, Jackie!

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  12. OH THAT BIRDIE KNOWS WHERE TO PERCH!JUST THINK OF HIS VIEW!

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  13. Oh Heather I am simply in awe. I love to see these majestic Creations!

    Xoxo
    Karena
    2013 Designer Series

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    1. Isn't it beautiful? I felt fortunate to see it again. :)

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  14. oh what a lovely post.

    did you walk the labyrinth?

    we've walked its copy at grace cathedral (SF)

    labyrinths are so revealing and spirit-ness-refresh-ing.

    (can you imagine being part of that night when they removed each pane of glass - thank you for that image - felt like a splendid film with Mr. Ralph Fiennes!)

    thrilling.

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    1. Ooh, well said! It would make for a fine movie and anything with Mr. Fiennes is all right by me. :) Alas, no for the labyrinth. They only clear the pews one day a month for pilgrims to walk it and I did not happen to be there on that day. But I do love them too...

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  15. It is such an impressive Cathedral and your photos have captured the beauty, serenity and magnificance of it. Love the shot with the white roses!

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    1. Merci, sukicart! The gardens were so gorgeous and they gave a softness to all of the impressive stone and glass.

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  16. I know I'm your sister and all, but these are some spectacularly beautiful photos!! Whoa - you're killing me; your photography is UH-MAY-ZING! I hope/assume R agrees with me? This is a beautiful post - your spirituality and faith shine through so intensely! LOVE.

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    1. Thank you so much beautiful Sister! And nobody supports me more than Remi, nobody. Ok, except maybe my Seeester. :)
      I love you!

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  17. there is also a mystical fact behind the cathedral. The entire construction is based on a certain numerical proportion. On the solstice the sun rays shine through a small hole on a brass button exactly at the day time when the sun has her peak level. Sounds very esoteric but it shows how intelligent the old architecture was. You caught so much of this
    historical building Heather.

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    1. Oh my Mumbai, clearly I didn't catch enough!! How amazing. I love mystical facts like that. They are links to what became before and our love of Nature. I would love to see that moment on solstice--it gives me goose-bumps just thinking about it...

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  18. Heather, your photos are just stunning. It's been so many years since I experienced the awe of Chartes firsthand. Your pictures and your thoughts bring me back to that feeling in my stomach as I gazed at a structure that underlined my own smallness and the grand mysteries of the universe. Thanks for taking me back. Hope your week is beautiful! XOXO

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    1. I hope that YOUR week involves travelling!!! Woot woot! And I am happy that I was able to give you a little of the time travelling time so that you could revisit your memories, Jeanne. I love "grand mysteries of the universe".
      Bisous!

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  19. 'some wise bird has built his nest just above the statue of Christ's head'

    was like an arrow through the heart. A very good one. Another deeply gorgeous post, my dear friend.

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    1. Wow, really? Thank you Suzahmatooze Donnasteponmyshoes. :)

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  20. Awe indeed, Heather!

    I must say, I'm fascinated by the grill work on the balcony with the little carved angels. I've never quite seen anything like it.

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    1. Oooh. I had to go back to look--it IS pretty isn't it? Like lace. I was more interested in those chubby faces. Leave it to you to go beyond the obvious!

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