Monday, July 23, 2007

The Randomness of Life!!

In my last post, I talked about my incredible adventure in France. It truly was an amazing trip. But something happened yesterday that has left me in a bit of a daze. I think that you'll find this incredible too.

The first part of our 'tour de France' was spent visiting one of the most amazing places I've ever seen...the Sanctuary of Notre-Dame-de-la-Salette. It's a religious site that is nestled high in the French Alps. It's so high up that you're sure that it's Heaven's next door neighbor. It's beautiful... picturesque...breathtaking. It's a place of solitude...serenity and peace. The road to this holy place is narrow and winding. At some points along the way you find yourself wondering why you would risk your life to see this place. But then you remind yourself that your driver and guide are experienced and that they've done this many times before.

What could possibly happen?

What happened yesterday, on that very same road...coming from that very same place...was disastrous. Twenty-six Polish tourist were killed and many others were injured when their bus...which might have been the same one I traveled on...missed a hard ninety degree turn and careened off the road; bursting into flames and dropping nearly one hundred feet to a river bed below. I remember that turn because, on the way down the mountain, I sat behind the driver and marveled at how nonchalantly he maneuvered the vehicle down the steep grade and around the many twists and turns. And the one where the accident took place stood out because, in a ride filled with extremes, it was the most extreme. It was a turn that was handle it the wrong way and you're done for. It's that simple. But yet, on our trip it was just another twist in the road. We slowed, turned and continued on our way. For yesterday's was the end of the road.

You can't help but wonder 'why them'? We made it...others made it...why didn't they make it? We'll never get an answer to that question...not in this world. But it makes you realize just how unpredictable life really is. When you think that you have it all figured out and you've planned for every throws you a curve ball.

I don't know if it was our tour bus. It could have been our driver and guide. I do know that if it was them then they're gone now...part of the twenty-six who perished. I pray for them all. They were only doing what I did a few days earlier.

You have to wonder about the randomness of life.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


My apologies for being gone so long. I have never been to Europe...but I can no longer say that. I had the good fortune to spend the better part of two weeks in, of all places, France. And it was not a trip that was limited to one part of the country. I traveled to Lyon and then on to the glorious French Alps. There we visited the shrine of La Salette, which is situated near the very top of a mountain. We moved on to Paray Le Monial, which is a stereotypical French village. If I were shooting a World War II movie, I would use this town as a location.

Our adventure continued to another quaint village called Ars, then back to Lyon on then on to Toulouse. From there we traveled by bus to the Holy Shrine of Lourdes. This is an amazing place. If you find that you've lost your faith, whatever faith that is, then you should visit Lourdes. Without going into a long dissertation let me simply say that something wonderful happens in this town. Every day there are tens of thousands of people visiting the grotto of Lourdes and many, like myself, bath in it's miraculous waters. I sat next to Mohammed...a Muslim from Algeria. He too bathed in the cool mountain waters that believers will tell you were sanctified by the Blessed Mother (or as my Muslim friend called her, St. Mary). You don't have to believe this but I will tell you this as fact...something wonderful happens to your soul when you immerse your body in that water and it affects you for the rest of your life.

After spending three days there, we flew back to Paris and spent several days investigating the city and the neighboring area of Normandy (an area my dad got to know intimately during the Second World War as a forward observer...not one of your safer Army specialties). I was a lecturer at the Basilica of St. Theresa, in a town called Lisieux. St Theresa was also known as The Little Flower and a truly wonderful soul. I sailed the Seine, saw the Arc de Triumph, the sparkling Eiffel Tower (they light it up at night), drove down the Champs-Élysées and touched the pillars of Notre Dame Cathedral.

And, to my amazement, I loved the French people. They were warm and considerate....the complete opposite of what I had expected. I could go on...and I probably will in another blog...but I will tell you that it was a fabulous that I would recommend to everyone.

So...that's where I've been. I hope you'll forgive me for not blogging while I was away...but I was a bit preoccupied...and I think that you would have been too.

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