Flashback: Quimper, Brittany–July 18th

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A good night’s sleep has made a world of difference in my perspective. My eyes are gritty and sore and my brain is still foggy and gummed up from traveling, yet, I am filled with delight. I can’t believe we’re finally here. After all the planning and anticipating and traveling, we made it!  It also helps that I’ve had an update from home: Kurt is on stronger antibiotics and doing well and Addie has recovered from her ailment. Connor’s bump doesn’t seem to be doing much either.  All in all, I can turn my focus from home to here. And what a lovely here it is!

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DSCN1116DSCN1152Everywhere I turn there are flowers–cascading from flower boxes, garnishing bridges, planted in elaborate gardens, edging ramparts, and working their way out of minute cracks in aged granite walls. Many of them are familiar–butterfly bush, roses, poppies, pansies, hydrangea and even palm trees. But the Brittany versions are on steroids–lush, huge and simply gorgeous! The colors pop out before the deep grey granite of the architecture, half-timbered houses and the picturesque cobblestone streets. The spires of Cathedrale St-Corentin soar above it all–drawing my eyes up, up, up. I’m pretty convinced that I’m at grave risk of being hit by a car while gawking and taking photographs!

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DSCN1151Lyddie and I are excited to get to our rental home in Lechiagat, but want to visit the cathedral before leaving. It was dedicated to St. Corentin, who before becoming a bishop, lived as a recluse. The legend is that he survived by eating part of a miraculous fish that lived in a spring near his home.  Every day he would slice of a portion of the fish and then place that same fish back in the spring where it would regenerate so he could eat part of it again the next night. One night he was able to feed an entire retinue of men from one piece of the fish. Pretty impressive! (If you look carefully at the banner representing St. Corentin, you can see the fish below him.) imgres

We wander in, admire and take discrete photographs. I find visiting churches as a tourist both awkward and moving. Sightseeing in a current place

Quimper_Saint_Corentin_intérieurof worship feels intrusive, yet it can be powerfully affecting to be in a space where so many people have gathered to worship and pray over centuries. These soaring stone walls have born silent witness to the repeated expression of  strong emotions through the ages– faith, hope, grief, despair.  Is there a residual energy or resonance from the presence of such intense emotions? There is certainly a hushed sense of timelessness within these walls. 

As we travel through Brittany, we will come to discover that it is a land deeply connected to the sea. In retrospect I realize how fitting it is that our first cathedral visit was to one dedicated to St Corentin, the patron saint of seafood.

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