Thursday, February 24, 2011

Pilgrim Feet: Stompin' up the stairs at Sacre Coeur

My latest Patheos column, A Word in Season, touches on the beauty of making a pilgrimage, with a brief recollection of my recent trip to Sacre Coeur in Paris...

My feet hurt, and I am grateful. It’s a sign I’m still moving. And movement -- any forward motion -- even when slowed by aching feet, is pilgrimage-worthy.  
I am three months into a physical sojourn from surgery repairing a tendon in my ankle, from which my surgeon announced: “It will be six months until you feel better.”
Still, last week, armed with my trusty cane, and the encouragement of my 21-year old daughter, I flew to Paris for a reunion with her and a pilgrimage to a few sacred places I have loved. One of those places was Sacre Coeur, the basilica dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, where continuous adoration of the Blessed Sacrament has taken place for 125 years.
Set on the region’s highest hill, Montmartre, where tradition holds St. Denis (the first Bishop of Paris) and his 3rd century companions were martyred, Sacra Coeur commands sweeping views of Paris and its environs. And to reach it, it’s all up hill.
Together my daughter and I climbed the familiar mighty steps, thankful that my foot had healed enough to make the trip. Upon reaching the top, we found someone else had made the climb… a gentle beggar with no legs at the door of the great church. I placed an offering in his tin cup and proceeded inside, grateful even more for the gift of aching feet and the opportunity to kneel before the Blessed Sacrament. 
The rest is here. 

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