2010-11-24 FRANCE

Pilgrimage to the Heart

Then back on the bus, the first time down hill,through field and through forest, so black and so tall.St. Sauveur en Rue and Bourg Argental,with water all rushing past workshop and mill.Those names from the past, first Brothers, they teach,to households all huddled within easy reachof parish and school, of workplace and shop.The times they are hard. They work till they drop.No rest for the weary, no ease when you?re ill.Bring hope to the children. The future is bright!The Brothers they shine like a beacon of lightin valleys so steep filled with factory and mill.The Brothers they worry. Jean Baptiste is so sick.Send word to the Father to come if he can.With parish, noviciate and school, mighty manheart full of compassion, he leaves double quick.From La Valla, le Bessat?s the top of the valley,ten minutes by bus, – two hours if you trek. With Stan, from the crest, they plunge down through the trees.They zigzag to left and zigzag to right.They push through the bracken, keep each other in sight.The way is not easy. The bottom they see.They both are quite tired but not tot?lly, the Bourg now in view, and he who is sick.O what a surprise as they push through the door,hot drinks and a welcome as never before.At his comforting presence Baptiste takes new heart.A few words to each and it?s time to depart.?No, Father, please stay here and rest over night.It?s getting quite dark and the day is near done.?Stanislaus has his doubts but Champagnat is bright.??t w?ll be an adventure. Come let?s have some fun!?Then into the gloom, up the valley they go.They joke as they see the beginnings of snow.The day becomes darker and so does their mood.The cold becomes deeper, gets into the bone.They slip and they slide. Stan?s beginning to groan.They?re past being hungry, too tired for food.Is it left. Is it right. Which way? ? they don?t know.The snow-cover?s deep, no sign of a track.The night?s just as deep. The colour, pitch black.Not a sound or a sight of anything hum?nto give them some light or to brighten the gloom.They?re both going to die. Stanislaus has collapsed.?Remember, Good Mother, and come to our aid.?As never before Champagnat has prayed.Only help out of heaven their end has delayed. I sit in my busin my warm comfy seat.I stare through the glass.The trees are all brown,the leaves turning yellow.They?re all falling down.The month is November.The summer?s long gone.It?s hard to remember.What?s it all about?The road is quite steep.The engine is strainingmomentum to keep.The valley is twisting.The valley is turning.The window is misting.I?m inside my busin my warm comfy seat.I stare through the glass.Yes, what?s life all about?Champagnat?s out there,and Stanislaus too.There?s death in the air.For down in the valleyhis friend who is faintinghe?s trying to rally.They?re lost in the snow,completely exhausted,five hours on the go.That?s what it?s about?While back in the coachus Brothers are silentas the crest we approach.We come to the topin just twenty minuteswith never a stop.It?s about choosing life!We?re not watching the clockbut river that racesthrough rapids and rock.Our Father and friendis down in that valley.We reach out a hand.Choose life! Choose life!Our hearts they are breakingdeep inside us today. In this pilgrimage makingyou?ll hear us all say:Choose life! Choose life! Choose life!__________Brother Julian Harrison


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