At Lourdes, France, we visit the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. It was built above the original chapel (beside the crypt) and consecrated in 1876.
I found this place particularly good for meditation. The tourists move about without talking.
A sign requests silence.
We saw the relics of St. Bernadette.
There is magic connected to saintly human bones. People pray to Bernadette here, hoping that she will bring a miracle. We plan to go to Rome to visit the bones of St. Peter.
We retraced our steps, going down to the Grotto, where Bernadette first saw the lady.
People touch the grotto walls, seeking magical help.
A statue of the Virgin Mary marks the place where the apparition appeared. Guided by the apparition, Bernadette uncovered a spring whose water has healing qualities.
People pray while in the grotto and we pass by the spring.
Karen and I talk with a man filling a container with the healing water. He expresses skepticism. “It’s a big market. This is magic,” he says. Karen agrees. “Maria!” he says.
Later, with the iPad off, he says, “The water is sacred. Okay? What about that water?” He asks pointing to the water going down the drain.
“Sacred, also,” I say. Maybe all water is sacred but people’s belief gives the Lourdes water special power. Drain water seems less sacred.
“You can turn the minds of people if you are clever,” he said. “You can make men do anything you want….if you take it in the right side.”
[This is an idea central to Voodoo or Rootlore]
“She came and people see her,” the man said. “Why…and how…does she hide herself and let only one daughter see her? Mother of Jesus wants to talk to the people. She come and say, ‘I am here! Me! Mary!’….but she wants to hide! Heaven help us!”
I have found, through interviewing shamans and magical practitioners all over the word, that strange phenomena always hide. The spirits never fully reveal themselves. Scientists and skeptics can never completely verify them. But people perceive benefits, so magic goes on for century after century. What is happening?
Lao tsu writes (chapter 37):
“The Tao never does anything
yet through it all things are done.
If powerful men and women
could center themselves in it
the whole world would be transformed
by itself, in its natural rhythms.
People would be content
with their simple everyday lives,
in harmony and free of desire.
When there is no desire,
all things are at peace.
People purchase candles at Lourdes and burn them as a form of prayer. Normal life involves desire. People seek benefits from God.
Of course, there is paradox involved. Lao tsu conceives of a deity so powerful that it does not need to act and he suggests absolute lack of desire as a means of coming into harmony with this entity. But normal humans have desires. Desires are part of being human. In the Christian universe, God will make adjustments if supplicated properly. Magic occurs. It is part of the natural rhythm. Ask and you will receive. Here is what I say: True faith does not come from words but from experience — from the Inner Path.
I pray that you find inner peace, my daughter-son-sister-brother-lover. I desire this. I meditate before the candles and when thoughts arise, I let them go and return my awareness to my breath.
Thoughts arise. I take note. I return my awareness to the breath. I lose myself. I’m gone.