Thursday, May 30, 2013

the courage to be oneself

entrance to Eglise St Jacques, Compiegne

I remember the first time that I really understood the phrase, “be gentle with yourself.” My friend Pat was giving a workshop at a nearby parish in Austin, and I tagged along with her to listen and keep her company.

I honestly don’t remember the actual topic Pat was presenting, but I remember that at some point during the day she challenged the all-female audience to treat themselves as kindly as they would someone else.
“Imagine that it’s your friend who is in this situation and not you. What would you say to her? How would you treat her? If I had to guess, I bet you’d be much kinder, more patient, more gentle and understanding than you are being to yourself.”
Over the past couple of days, I’ve remembered that moment often, especially as I’ve tried to get back to the “swing” of things here, while still fighting jet lag both in my body and my mind!

Why is it so hard to allow myself to be human?

For example, ever since last week I’ve been saving May 30 in my mind for a special blog on Joan of Arc. Yet here I am with about one hour left in the date, and I still haven’t put anything together.

Yet why continue to give myself a hard time about it? What’s the worse that will happen? Only that you will have to hear about it half a day later!

On May 30, 1431, Joan of Arc was burnt alive on the Old Market Square in Rouen, France—and her ashes thrown into the River Siene. She was 19 years old.

Joan was a big part of our two-week French pilgrimage. We saw images and paintings of her everywhere—and without planning anything but Rouen, we came across several sites related to her courageous story.

Here’s a sampling:

By "chance" we came across the town/church where Joan of Arc was arrested,
in the little town of Compiegne, where we spent our first two nights

Here she is in Beauvais, the Cathedral that will never be finished!

And at the Cathedral Notre Dame de Reims, we came across a contemporary exhibit by Greg Tricker dedicated to Joan of Arc (and an assembly of other saints)

In Poitiers, a town we first visited 13 years ago as a stop on the train to Lourdes:

at Mont-St-Michel:

And finally, Rouen, where she was killed on May 30, 1431:

"I ask, first of all, to make peace. If one is not prepared to make peace, I am quite ready to fight for it" ~St. Joan of Arc