Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Go drink and cleanse yourself with the water from the spring.

Lining up inside the building
 “Go drink and cleanse yourself with the water from the spring.” This was the message of Our Lady to Bernadette Soubirous in the apparition at Lourdes in 24 February 1858. It is interpreted as “to redeem salvation, accept and ask for forgiveness and repentance.”

Today, the grotto continues with the symbolic ritual at the actual apparition site resulting in documented miraculous cures and spiritual renewals.

Per Celeste’s influence, I bathed with spring water, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon within the set window time. Temperature range was 19 degrees Celsuis in the morning, slightly warmer in the afternoon.

Gave de Paul River
The long line I expected with mostly physically handicapped Europeans was not there but nevertheless it took me still over an hour from the entrance to the exit. The wait was sufficient to prepare oneself for the cleansing through guided prayers and personal reflections. There were four major phases to the bath: the snake and ladder chairs at the entrance, the line inside the building, the assigned ante room where one strips his clothes and the tub guided by 3 assistants. Instructions were posted in the walls in several languages; French, Italian, English.

While bathing in the cold spring water, one prays and expresses intentions. Key is belief and conviction. Seeing the physically challenged, hearing the repetitive prayer and jolted by the dip in spring water deepen this conviction.

Stations of the Cross at the open field
My first experience was out of curiosity slowly transforming from observing to releasing and accepting. I walked out of the site feeling light, thinking with refreshed clarity. I cooled down walking around the vast open field reflecting on the event. During the bath, I was tense and did not completely dip myself, thus the motivation to return.

For the 2nd bath in the afternoon, I was better prepared with more intentions and a stronger belief. In the line, I was seated beside a young black European who looked serious. I also spotted several physically handicapped both young and old waiting for their turns just like us. We completed the ritual in about an hour.

Just like the 1st experience, after the bath. I wandered around the Grotto complex covering up the Stations of the Cross in the nearby hills feeling fulfilled for going through the healing session.

Train Station
Five hours later, we were to board our train to Paris at the Gare de Lourdes, the train station just 5 minutes away from the grotto by taxi.

Ten hours later, we were at the Gare Paris Austerlisz station transitioning from provincial to urban France.

Less than an hour later via taxi, we were at Val d ‘Europe Serris, France checking in at the Residhome Prestige, an accommodation our colleague Ma. Carmela booked just hours ago in Lourdes.

At the reception, I noticed a young black European who entered the staff area of Residhome, got his cleaning equipment and started doing his chores. The young man quickly stared at me. In my mind I asked, “Have I seen him before?”

Residhome Lobby
Minutes later, in a private conservation at the rest room of the Residhome, it was validated that he was with me in Lourdes.  He did not speak English.  I was interpreting his reply with non verbal communication and key phrases.  I eventually learned that his name was Oscar and has been visiting Lourdes for a personal intention.  What it is was was not clear to me.  What struck me was the incidence of me side by side with a stranger, riding in the same train and going to the same place.

I would have probed further the impact on Oscar. But in the succeeding days, I no longer saw him as other personnel had taken over the shift.

Candle Offerings
This to me was a mystery unmistakably attributed to Our Lady of Lourdes. No longer was this trip merely a physical exercise but a spiritual journey. Slowly after realizing the intentions getting fulfilled, my belief on what intercessions can do has been getting stronger.

Now, whenever I recite in my daily prayers “through the intercession of Our Lady,” I pray it with conviction because in Lourdes, I was blessed with the power of this bridge.



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