Recently I went on a pilgrimage to Lourdes (the result of my fundraising hair cut! you can view that post HERE!) I can honestly say it was an experience like no other. While it still fresh in my memory I have decided to document it on my blog and share the experience with you all! 😀
Lets begin with the 27 HOUR COACH JOURNEY SHALL WE? 😉
In order to keep costs at a minimal (well either that or our Teachers enjoyed this torture and felt the need to put us all through it… damn I knew I should’ve handed in that maths homework) we did the entirety of the trip via coach but had a ferry journey from Dover to Calais.
The actual journey went surprisingly fast! The tips I can offer you in order to have a fairly fun coach journey include;
- Keeping hydrated! Drink a lot of water but not so much that you need to pee every 5 minutes, if you do plan on drinking a lot or if you just have a week bladder sit in a seat that near the toilet. There’s noting worse than having to stomp down a coach and wake everyone else- that is a one way ticket to everyone hating you on the coach, trust me on that! 😀
- Wear comfy clothes, something that you are happy to lounge about in but also that you can also remove if you need to…. LAYER THEM CLOTHES! I wore this slouchy jersey top and long vest top- both from h&m…. Both inexpensive and practical. I pared them with a pair of leggings and brought some tracksuit bottoms to change into. You can view what I wore by clicking on the item listed…..(I’ve been all snazzy and hyperlinked them you see!) 😀 The jersey shirt…… The long vest top…… the leggings….. The tracksuit bottoms……
- Sit with someone that you like! Time goes so slowly in bad company!! I sat with my friend Nieve but we agreed that we’d swap half way through the journey so that we didn’t end up killing each other…. a lot of people did a similar thing. If you really want to push yourself sit with someone you don’t really know that well and get to know them! Who knows? you might have more in common than you’d think 🙂
Once we arrived in Lourdes we were all shattered but a day of activities beckoned. Lourdes was a non-stop journey right from the go!
Throughout the trip our days were jam-packed with activities. For example this is our first day activities timetable!!
After each day we had reflection and ended up going to bed at about 11/12….. each night we were lucky to get 6 hours sleep! Despite our pilgrim deciding on the 2nd day he no longer wanted to be looked after by my group anymore we were all left stranded and had to leech onto other groups. I fortunately knew one of the pilgrims as he baptised me so I was still fully able to participate. Throughout the activities we reflected upon what we’d done then collectively at the end of each day had the so aptly named ” Reflection” in which some pensive music was played and we prayed and what not. Now I am not particularly religious but being in Lourdes really opens your eyes to all the aspects of religion rather than just church and praying seemed less like a chore and more a time to be alone with your thoughts.
As a school we did a lot of activities, much more than the 11 other schools that went. This meant we didn’t socialize with the other schools that much, this was something we were all very upset by. Through talking to people from my school that previously went to Lourdes and knowing that through the experience they made life long friends it was a massive shame that we didn’t have the same experience.
One of my favourite memories of the activities was from the Baths. The story of Lourdes is (in a nutshell) that a young girl called Bernadette saw an apparition of Mary who told her to drink from the water in a dirty grotto, when she did this the water became pure and a spring arose from the ground. People were stunned and slowly one by one begun to drink from the spring; in doing so their illness were cured and the disabled were able. The baths are now a massive attraction at the heart of Lourdes.
Queuing up for the baths somewhat resembled queuing for a ride at a theme park, there was a similar buzz of apprehension, anticipation and excitement through the air. Lots of the girls were a bit uneasy at the prospect of the baths as we are told that in order to get the most out of the experience we were to go into the frightfully cold baths, NAKED. Now I personally wasn’t bothered by the *ahem* nakedness or the cold (as I used to train in pools of a similar temperature). As we were getting ready to go into the baths I will admit that I was nervous, I don’t know why but there was this feeling in the pit of my stomach a nagging pull in my gut, like butterfly’s but stronger turning my thoughts and making me slightly uneasy.
The actual sisters there are lovely and respectful and took great care of us all. As it was my turn I was determined not to be phased by the cold and stepped onto the first porcelain step. The cold coursed up through my foot, into my leg and seemed to constrict my chest and really took your breath away. I waded through the water to Mary and said a prayer before sitting down in the bath. (I say bath but it was much more majestic than your tub at home I can assure you- it was like a porcelain hole carved into the ground, quite beautiful) The feeling was quite hard to describe. There is merely one word that comes to mind to describe it, Ominous. The feeling that there was something else there. All my senses seemed alive, alert and awakened. After submerging I found myself laughing, not a hysterical, manic laugh but a laugh of joy and confusion I guess. It was truly one of the most wonderful experiences I have ever had.
The Torchlight Processions
On a couple of occasions we were able to participate in the Torchlight processions one of which we allowed onto the main altar, it was a beautiful, beautiful sight and experience.
My Friends/ The Emotions
Lourdes is a very emotional journey. It challenged my thoughts and reawakened some things that I myself hadn’t thought about in a long time. Feelings of supressed emotions, things I preferred to block out all rose to the surface. Feelings so powerful or overwhelming that I was reduced to tears on a few occasions. I hardly ever cry in front of other people but I found my eyes welling up on many occasions (as did many other people from my group). We were all each others own support and friends, even people that I wasn’t that close to became friends that you could talk to. My friends I am indefinitely much closer to emotionally and have a stronger bond with. The most enjoyable, fun moments were at the dinner table….. I’m pretty sure I developed a six pack from all the laughing. (mainly at my food as the waiters didn’t seem to understand the term “sans lactose”…. anyone for boiled potatoes and bread?)
AND AFTER ALL THAT EMOTIONAL SHIZZ I THINK ITS ABOUT TIME FOR SOME PHOTO’S….HERES A COLLECTION OF MY FAVORITE SNAPS FROM THE TRIP! 😀
A Picture Says A Thousand Words
So that just about concludes another post guys! The journey of Lourdes was truly one that I hope I never forget, the tears, the love and the friendships. The sense of belonging and hope. The feeling of pushing myself to try and do new things and putting my all in. I grew so much in the space of one week as a person and really changed my outlook on life.
I wish you all the best in whatever your doing today, I hope that you enjoyed that somewhat emotional post and that if you ever get the chance to go on a pilgrimage or do something a little out your comfort zone you seize the opportunity 😀
See you soon, Becky x