Saturday, March 19, 2011

Walking Stories IV

Mont Saint Michel

We waited for low tide, then rode across the wet sand to the abbey-crowned mountain. We left the horses in the courtyard. Huge wooden doors opened to us, steep narrow streets made us grip the cobblestones with our booted feet. We passed the cottages of the people and the shops and the tavern of the Mother Poulard. As we mounted the stairs, exiting the village, the sea breeze caught us. We spiraled up and up.

We entered the church, the cathedral heart of the abbey and maybe of the mount itself. The walls reverberated with the centuries of prayers they had heard. The cold winter light softened into a white glow of holiness. The seats were filled with those who had chosen to make their lives there. We could not make that choice and so continued.

We discovered on to the cloister garden; the simplicity of its verdure touching us keenly in this chill world of stone. Here the designs on the columns were dainty, the pointed arches directing the eye heavenward, the windows opening to the vastness of the bay and the sea and the flat landscape. We lingered, unwillingly to leave this place of peace and beauty

We paused in the refrectory. Ancient fires warmed us, the odors of plain wholesome bread and roasted meat teased us, the unbroken silence of those who ate subdued us and the many thin windows amazed us. The variety of their panes and the pure light they exuded seemed too beautiful for this life of privation and solitude. 

We wandered through many corridors, up and down many steps. We saw huge hidden columns that supported all the rest not like leaders and commanders, but like loving mothers and hard-working fathers and long-suffering teachers.

We walked along the ramparts, watching workers replace eighty-year-old wood shingles on the steep roofs of the houses. From here, we could look up and see the golden Michael defeating the Serpent.

We descended slowly back to earth, got in the car, ate bread and cheese and drove away.

Parts of this account are true, others are embroidered into from the sentiments and history around the narrators. Is that what fiction is? Taking real life and adding all the parts we wish had been there?


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