Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday's Millinery Musings - France on Foot Part 3: Getting lost


There are several ways of responding to getting lost on the trail: 1) Panic, not advised, or 2) Surrender wholeheartedly to being lost. The last option is by far the more interesting. Suddenly one becomes a different person inhabiting a wild new world.

Several years ago we were lost in a forest in Burgundy. We had cut back and forth in the hills for several hours on a very hot day. We ran out of water. At some point we realized that we had been led off trail by a series of mis-marked and missing blazes (trail markers). We found ourselves good and lost. At this point we abandoned the trail markings and went straight back to the compass and the blessed Serie Bleu map, which also has topographic detail. Dave, quite the accomplished boy scout, eventually  put us on the right track. But that didn't help with water.

Finally headed in the right direction, we slogged through the underbrush, sweat running down our bodies, and the dull headaches of dehydration our constant companion. The thirst was ferocious. After some time we found ourselves facing a very small, white sign with black lettering that said  "Le Source", a spring!  The narrow trail eventually widened  into a shady opening in the forest and there to our astonishment was Saint Anne

St Anne, mother of Mary

A grotto of large and small stones had been roughly fashioned and in a niche stood a small statue of Saint Anne. She stood calmly in her stone robes.  Other niches held sprays of plastic flowers: yellow sunflowers, pink roses, and a vase of spent blue irises. Clear, cold, spring water poured out from a small pipe under St. Anne's feet and flowed into a reflecting pool that collected water as it ran out of an opening between the stones into another pool. It was a nearly unbelievable sight!

When the lost are found, when thirst is quenched, the single most crystalline feeling is of joy. Pure and simple joy of the heart and mind. All cares fall away. We dropped our backpacks and sat a long while with Saint Anne and took comfort from her. We drank deeply from the spring and bathed our sunburned faces in the cool freshness of this tiny refuge that seemed to materialize just for us. We found our way easily after that to our village hotel and a good meal. This experience gave us much to think about and be thankful for.

I wish you simple joys as you walk along your way. You may feel lost sometimes, but you will find yourself. Not to worry.

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