There are moments in our lives that act as a turning point. A turning mentally or physically from the straight path we were following onto a new unexplored road. Perhaps it leads us towards an external goal or maybe it takes us deeper within our selves.
This morning, out of the blue, I was struck with the desire to share a story with you. This was an inward turning point in my life. It happened to occur while I was vacationing in France on a week long artist retreat. The entire week in itself is noteworthy, however there was one moment where I felt my heart break open. I found myself standing on the top of “the Great Staircase” in Rocamadour crying.
Upon our arrival to the cliff town of Rocamadour, our host told me that many religious pilgrims would climb the 223 stone steps on their knees in devotion. Their journey led them to The Chapelle Notre Dame at the top of the cliff. To be honest, I didn’t get it. The thought that crossed my mind was “why would anyone do that… that’s just nuts.”
We started our exploration of the town at about the midpoint. Although I entered with a group, I decided to walk around on my own and take in the town. I headed up the stairs towards the Chapelle Notre Dame with the hopes of getting a few good photos. After snapping a few shots I wandered inside.
There was an incredible silence within that space. It was heavy. I began to feel connected to the energy of that silence. My breathing slowed, my pace slowed. My feet took me back outside of the building, around the corner and down a long tunnel. I remember the strong urge to run my hand along the rough stone as I walked. When I reached the end, I turned back around and made my way back to “the Great Staircase.”
Slowly walking down the steps (the same ones I had just raced up briskly) I felt a wave of spirit fill me. It was an intense emotion. All at once I felt the energy of devotion, belief, searching, worship and gratitude. Within myself I knew why this was a place of pilgrimage. I suddenly understood.
I began crying right there on the steps. Holding onto the rock wall before me, I fought the urge to block the emotion and the tears. Instead I embraced it and let it flow through me. Despite the constant flow of people past me, I allowed myself to fully be immersed in that energy. It was an indescribably magical moment. It was a turning inward to an energy I had never experienced before.