This package is pressed between two pair of black jeans in my suitcase. As Drew and I wait at Clinton National Airport to board our flight to Atlanta then on to Paris, we watch our bags being loaded onto the plane. There it goes, my large brown Samsonite with the shiny silver ribbon.
"A journal," the instructions specified on the What To Bring list. I already had one, still wrapped in its original parchment paper. When I bought it two months ago, I knew I would need it . . . sometime. A writer can never have too many. But I never dreamed that it would be traveling with us to France, especially to Chartres.
The Cathedral at Chartres, about an hour southwest of Paris, is a UNESCO World Heritage Center. UNESCO describes it as a "high point of French Gothic art... a masterpiece."
For labyrinth lovers, like me, Chartres Cathedral is THE destination, as it was for pilgrims throughout the Middle Ages. On its floor, under its voluminous vaulted arches, lies a labyrinth built in the early 13th century.
For the next five days, I will participate in a labyrinth pilgrimage at the cathedral, led by Dr. Lauren Artress. I will add my footsteps to the thousands of other pilgrims who have traveled through its doors and circled the labyrinth for the past 800 years.
I chose not to unwrap the journal before we left. I can hardly remember its features - flowered cover, perhaps, lined pages or blank? I anticipate peeling off the tape and unfolding the layers, much as I anticipate the journey ahead. The destination known, the details yet to unfold.
THEN . . .
Drew and I will travel through Normandy and Brittany for ten days, a whole different kind of journey.
I'll be sure to save plenty of blank pages.