Day 8 – A place to be

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Go to a local café, park, or public place and report on what you see. Get detailed: leave no nuance behind.

At the moment I just don’t have the time to get out for two hours to really soak in a place to be able to adequately describe it. So I’ll take you on a journey, eight years back, to a place in France – I can’t even remember exactly where it was or what it was called.

When I left the car, I had no idea what to expect. We had been seeing quite a number of monasteries and churches and other touristic sites, so I didn’t really think this would be a big change of the last few days. Boy, was I wrong. The white walls of the monastery bathed in the warm summer sun, framed by the lush green of ivy, only shadowed by the huge, towering oak trees. A warm breeze rustled the leaves and there was nothing to be heard except this calm whispering and the chorals of the monks, only faintly audible from the church somewhere in the back of the monastery.

We went over the pebble stone way leading up to the gardens that were open to visitors. Somehow we had managed to arrive at a time where the only other visitors were two monks, strolling in their white cowls over the lush grass, making this moment even more surreal and precious. There were no paths in the garden itself and so no steps were heard as we walked in, entranced. The garden side of the monastery hadn’t always been a garden, but was once the church, destroyed in some war or another. But instead of taking everything down that had been destroyed, only the rubble had been cleared and what had been left behind told a story in itself. In the midst of the the dark green, marble columns grew towards the sky, some only one or two metres high, some leading up to incredible heights, still carrying their load. Several arcs still spanned above us, incarved with stone leaves and other garnishments, equalling the oaks in their majesty. A half-broken wall with the skeleton of a window painting patterns of shadow and light on the ground. Leaves and small white flowers adorned the ground, framing a tombstone of old. Still the choral weaved music in the air and as we walked in silence beneath the ruins, the scent of lavender and rosemary made promises of the herb garden in the back. We saw the monks in white talking to one of the local brothers, clad in black and follow him inside, but we didn’t feel like talking. Ten minutes passed, twenty and still we stood in the gardens, entranced and silent, soaking in this holy place. The chorals stopped when we finally reached our car and it felt like good bye.

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