October 20, 2013: Pilgrimage to Lourdes, #3

I have returned from the trip to Lourdes, and must say that Spirit did an excellent job of guiding my travel plans! When I left Lourdes, I travelled by train to east to Carcassonne, then headed south by bus to the small rural village of Esperaza. During the planning stages of the trip, I had been attracted to four villages along the Aude River, yet upon studying the satellite views on GoogleEarth I was guided to stay in Esperaza. I had reservations at a B&B immediately on the river, which flows northward through the village from its sources in the Pyrenees Mountains. ‘La Maison de la Riviere’ turned out to be gorgeous, and the clear river waters in front of it sparkled in the sunshine.

That first afternoon, my friend and I got directions for a hike to a nearby site I had read about, roughly two miles away. We apparently took a wrong turn, as we ended up hiking for several miles, with our destination in sight, yet never getting any closer to it. The road we travelled climbed a steep, long hill, near rocky outcroppings, along vineyards, and between fields of freshly turned red soil. We saw no one, not even as we passed by a well-kept farm with gardens, fields, barns, and animals. We continued on past another farm/guesthouse, reading a sign on a nearby telephone pole: SOUBIROUS. I stopped, stunned, my mind scurrying for understanding. Was this the same Soubirous we had just come to know in Lourdes, the young peasant girl who had been visited by apparitions? Had some of Bernadette Soubirous’ relatives settled here in the highlands near Esperaza? What an amazing coincidence! We walked on, talking, for another mile or so, crested the hill to see a marvelous view of the distant mountain peak, Bugarach; yet realized we were still no closer to our intended destination, so turned back to retrace our steps. My friend was certain we had found the reason for our ‘wrong’ turn in the Soubirous name. We walked back down to Esperaza, enjoying the peace and quiet of nature, the gorgeous warm October day, and our delight in being outdoors. Upon our return to Esperaza, we entered the old church on the village square for the first time. We slowly walked along its side aisles, taking in the religious art, stained glass windows, and statues. We were once again stunned to find an alcove chapel dedicated to Bernadette and The Lady of Lourdes! The beautiful small stained glass window, and the statue of the two of them at the grotto in Lourdes confirmed that there was a clear connection between Esperaza and Lourdes!

I wondered whether those other villages I had not visited would have also had a connection, or did Spirit guide me to the only one? I do not know that answer, yet I marvel at the synchronicity of these events!

October 20, 2013