This was, at one time, a huge community. There were only thirteen cloistered monks who kept silence the entire time they were here. From the time they entered the order until they died. They had absolutely no contact with the outside world. The community around them here supported them in their devotion and welcomed pilgrims.
Part of the monks daily practice was walking meditation which they did for hours. There are other communities to this day that also practice this contemplative life. The first I knew of were Buddhist. Then, I learned of others. You might want to check out the movie, "Into The Silence." I was moved by the devotion of those who built this space and those who occupied it.
We had vespers in this sacred space.
We went on after this to Cahors. Cahors is situated on a peninsula formed by a tight bend in the river Lot. It is one of the oldest cities in existence, dating back to the time before Christ. It was "Christianised" in the 5th century and became an important place for pilgrims.
We had a wonderful guided tour of this medieval city, including St. Stephen's Cathedral and the 14th century fortified bridge.
The day involved lots of walking. So far on this journey, I have seen lots of modern day pilgrims. They are apparent by their back packs which are clearly designed for long hikes and sleeping "camped out." Such "hikes" make cities and places of refuge and refreshment vitally important and pilgrams may stay in such places for days in order to renew themselves. Then they are off again.
My pedometer indicates that I have walked over 13,000 steps today. Miniscule compared with someone who is walking all the say to Santiago.
Lessons from this part of the trip:
Be clear about where you are going. Take time out to rest and replenish. Then, be on your way.
Don't just go about. I was reminded of this line as I wondered about the variety of motivations that makes someone decide to make this journey. A professor of mine from seminary days said on the last class he taught before we went to places of service, "Jesus went about doing good. Make sure you don't just go about."
More to come.