With breathtaking towers that reach toward heaven, Chartres Cathedral sits as a living monument to love.
It is truly a living, breathing embodiment of eternal love and divinity, as it was built by people who imbued each stone and piece of glass with these ideals. One of the only places to withstand assault by revolutionaries and war and survive intact, its beautiful stained glass and intricate carvings tell stories of the devoted that laid the foundation of faith.
At first glance, one would think that Chartres was just another pretty church, but upon closer examination, you will find layers upon layers of stories woven into the stone, beseeching the pilgrim to go within and investigate his truth. It was this way for me when first arriving in Chartres. Entering through the north portal, overseen by the wise Saint Anne, I literally caught my breath when I stepped into the body of the church. The glow from the windows coupled with the sheer size put me in sensory overload. I began to walk from chapel to chapel, trying to take in the statues, pictures, and information.
|Chartres Cathedral - Look who greets you above the door!|
Some of the church is being restored, so a portion is covered in scaffolding and shielded from public view, which is probably a good thing for me since the I was already at maximum information capacity. The first evening, I made my way around the cathedral, experiencing and feeling the energy. I saw amazing statues (A Black Madonna!) and Mother Mary's Veil.
|Black Madonna, Chartres|
|Notre Dame sous la terre|
|Mother Mary's veil|
Tomorrow, we were going to walk the labyrinth, and I didn't want to be distracted by all the things Chartres had to show me.
On most Fridays, the Chartres labyrinth is cleared of the blemish of chairs, and pilgrims are allowed to walk its path. I was a labyrinth virgin, having saved myself for Chartres. For years, I have wanted to build a labyrinth even though I had never walked one. Past life memories, I think, were pulling on me to remember the magic and sacredness of The Walk. I knew the first time needed to be in Chartres. I felt like I was coming home when I stepped inside the cathedral Friday morning and prepared to enter the labyrinth. Giving a nod to Mary Magdalene in her window, I began my journey to the center. Each person will have a different experience when they walk the labyrinth. I had unique experiences each of the four times I walked it that day, with deep reflections and personal epiphanies. It was interesting to watch people walk it as well. People walked slowly, quickly, absentmindedly, purposefully. Children ran down the paths. One adult did cartwheels. Some stopped every few steps to contemplate, while others were in a hurry to reach the center. I wondered if the way they walked reflected the way they lived.
My time in Chartres was not long enough to discover the sacred secrets that she holds, but did give me a brief introduction to the mysteries that have yet to be solved.