daisies as little flowers of faith
Le blog de la Bergerie

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Travel Diaries:
from one tiny and discreet chapel in the Alps
to another one, world famous, in Paris
and a basilica and more in between

Hiking to la chapelle de Sales (en Haute-Savoie)

        chapelle de Sales Haute Savoie            citation de Saint Francois de Sales    

La chapelle de Sales, Haute-Savoie, France. Cette petite chapelle se trouve juste avant d'arriver au refuge de Sales, dans la commune de Six Fer-A-Cheval, à 1778 mètres de haut et elle date du XVIIème siècle. La randonnée pour aller du parking des Lignons au refuge de Sales est absolument merveilleuse ! Elle est aussi très fréquentée. On monte d'abord à travers la forêt, c'est un large sentier mais plutôt raide, on passe à côté de belles cascades (la Saussaz, la Pleureuse), on débouche au-dessus du niveau des arbres et on longe maintenant le torrent, le terrain est plat, avec de l'herbe, des petites fleurs, de la rocaille, des lapiaz, on recommence à grimper à partir du Pas de Sales qui est taillé dans la falaise, avec une barrière légère du côté du vide mais une grosse corde en fer plantée dans la paroi à laquelle peuvent s'agripper ceux qui ont facilement le vertige (comme moi : ), puis le sentier devient un peu raide et monte en lacets le long de la cascade de Sales, et on arrive finalement sur le plateau où se trouve la chapelle de Sales et le refuge de Sales ! Faire une prière à l'arrivée avant même d'aller boire quelque chose au refuge, quelle bonne opportunité. Apres le refuge, il y a aussi d'autres chalets qui sont surement des chalets d'alpage mais je ne suis pas allée vérifier. Cet endroit est le point de départ de bien d'autres randonnees. Au refuge, pour célébrer cette ballade que j'ai faite toute seule, un beau matin de juillet, j'ai même mangé une coupe myrtille-chantilly en arrivant, ce qui est très rare pour moi puisque je suis diabétique et que je suis un régime, mais je me disais que les deux heures de montée et l'heure et demie de descente compenseraient… Durant cette ballade, j'ai vu de près une marmotte, un bouquetin, beaucoup de fleurs et de papillons, et surtout ces paysages de montagne magnifiques et toutes ces cascades majestueuses.

           St Francis of Sales quote       

The chapel of Sales, in the French Alps. This small chapel is located just before arriving to the "refuge de Sales", at 5,860 feet in altitude and is from the XVII century. The hike from the Lignon parking to the refuge de Sales is absolutely wonderful. It will take you through the forest, on a steep path, next to gorgeous waterfalls, then above the tree line, you will go through a fairly flat section before ascending again, with a narrow passage cut into the cliff, but large and well marked, with an iron rope planted in the rock, which people with vertigo (like myself) can cling to. Finally, you will arrive to the plateau de Sales where you will find first a tiny chapel. To say a prayer there and put in your request, even before arriving at the buvette for a drink, is the proper thing to do. I saw one marmotte (mountain squirrel?), one mountain goat (des bouquetins), tons of butterflies and little flowers, it is truly a great hike, with terrific views and majestuous waterfalls.

Traveling to Paris shortly after

Then a couple of weeks later, I was in Paris. I walked all over the place and took photos. I also made sure to spend time in sacred places for fervent prayers for family and friends going through very big health challenges right now. I understand we can pray anywhere in the world and we can certainly talk to God within the silence of our own heart. And we should. But it is also very important to show respect and devotion to famous holy places, it reinforces our own humility and patience and a sense of community when we join in and take our place within a circle of prayers. So I took the metro and walked around a lot. I enjoyed it because I had not been in Paris in years… The first reason I went there was to be with family but the city turned out to be even much more busier and crowded than I ever expected, but it was such a good visit, such a rich connection with so many good news and good moments…I am very grateful. I will not post here the family photos because some moments are best kept in my heart.
I have been writing this article in my head: "Ma vie est magnifique!" (my life is terrific) and I keep finding material in the smallest events. I am never bored, but I do get impatient once in a while, which is so futile, so pointless. Plus it is basically selfish. But I have learned to redirect my attention to seeking beauty or goodness or justice around myself, right there, on the spot. And it often helps me. But I certainly don't rely on my own strength! I ask for help, constantly. I can share that my two favorite types of prayers are the Jesus prayer, in English, and the rosary, in French or in English. I do know I need help, which is why I visit churches because being close to the tabernacle is a beautiful setting for help.

So I went to the Basilica of Le Sacre-Coeur
and the chapel of the Miraculous Medal and more

The basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is known all over the world, very deservedly. It is located on top of a small hill: La Butte Montmartre, it has hundreds of steps to climb and where tourists and street musicians come and take a break. The inside of the basilica is breath taking! In Art works, in History, in Devotional piety.
I remember that, even before my return to the Catholic faith, I always loved to enter into a church when I would happen to walk by one. I always consider them peaceful places, enjoying the quietness and stillness of them, appreciating the play of light through the stained glass windows…So on this particular trip to Paris, I spent one night in the Sacre-Coeur and one afternoon rue du Bac. I had gone to a Lenten retreat in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart a few years ago, where I had also registered for Adoration. So on this visit to Paris, I checked in after 8pm, Mass at 10pm, Adoration 11 to midnight, then I went to my small room, which was very quiet, very simple, it was perfect. Only the people who register for prayer for the night can be there at night, and you can stay upstairs in the basilica for how long you wish, and it is quite an amazing experience to be able to pray in this unique place, hearing the city humming softly outside and with this very large Resurrected Christ above your head staring at you! It is the best place to bring all your worries and your requests and put them at the foot of the Cross. The following morning I asked for masses for a few people and I got to meet one of the Sister, who spoke wonderful words of encouragement to me! She was so young (well nowadays a lot of people look very young to me…) but she was so luminous and so filled with joy that some of it spilled all over me! A great encounter.

On another day, I happened to arrive at the Chapel of the Miraculous Medal when the rosary was starting. So I stayed and prayed and basked in the serenity of this holy place. I have already posted numerous photos and comments on facebook, but here on this blog I can certainly say that every day that goes by, wherever I happened to be, reinforces this awareness in me that it is all about relationships, the ones we care for and the ones we nurture again. Love and trust and hope! Seeking beauty and goodness around us is a good habit, it is an art, a very formative lifestyle, a very useful one if you ask me! Just as expressing gratitude to the people around us is such a good thing, for them and for ourselves, then to be able to verbalize this thankfulness in the silence of our heart so it can affect our own attitude and actions, and especially to know how to articulate it in prayers to God and his saints, all those are absolutely crucial and essential practices. Do not think I have mastered this, oh no, I'm far from it. It is not because you know something is essential that you actually manage to live it day in and day out. Everyone's life is a work in progress unfolding itself till our last breath. Or so I see it. So what I am doing here is sharing the little bits of wisdom which I have encountered and I have complete trust that whomever is reading this might be able to put it in practice in better and more profound ways than myself. Why not? We are all in this boat together! We are all linked, and whether it is digital networks, human communities or transcendent communions, we are in this together, we are carrying each other in more ways than is visible to the eyes…unless you use the eyes of your soul.

I finished my walk in Paris by Notre Dame Cathedral, which was extremely busy (this was before the terrible fire). I am also adding a photo taken on another day when I noticed "poetry written on a city wall" because it made me smile happily and it seemed so much in sync with all my ponderings during this specific trip to Paris!


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