Reflecting on a Rose


The photo I am posting for this week’s WPC theme is of a yellow rose which I keep in my glass cabinet.

Among the Ancient Romans, the rose was the symbol of victory, pride and triumphant love.  But for me it is a reminder of many happy times when I travelled on pilgrimages to Lourdes in Southern France with ACROSS on the Jumbulance.

Lourdes is where Mary, the mother of Jesus, appeared to the peasant child, Bernadette Soubirous in 1858.   She was described as having a yellow rose on each foot.   I have been devoted to Our lady of Lourdes since I was a small child.  She is my role-model, my refuge and my strength.

I consider Lourdes to be Holy ground.   God’s Spirit moves there in the rushing waters of the River Gave, and in the gentle breeze that wafts down from snow-covered mountains.  The Spirit moves there in the grand Basilica bathed in sunlight, and in the peaceful Grotto silent in the moonlight. Even the souvenir shops, where the staff will literally move the doors, displays and furnishings to enable a wheelchair bound customer easier access, are filled with the Holy Spirit..   For almost 160 years the sick, dying, troubled and faithful have travelled to Lourdes in the hope of finding relief, comfort, healing and grace.

But, today I am reflecting, not on Lourdes but on Fatima in Portugal. 13th May 2017, is a very special day for anyone who is devoted to Mary, as it is 100 years since she appeared to three peasant children there.  This is such an important event that Pope Francis is attending the celebrations.  He arrived yesterday, and one of the first things he did was to place a golden/yellow rose in the Little Chapel of the Apparitions.

For readers who are interested, there are detailed accounts of the celebrations with live recordings on the Vatican website.

Having been to Lourdes and experienced the powerful atmosphere created by 50,000 pilgrims praying, singing, or standing in silence together, I can only imagine how moving it must be in Fatima this weekend, where hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from all over the world, have gathered to pray in many different languages for unity and peace on Earth.

I am joining them online!


This post is inspired by the February theme of ‘Pilgrimage’ on  Carpe Diem

Seeking solitude
I journey into my soul
A Prayerful Pilgrim

I have written about my idea of pilgrimage before and have posted links to these posts so you can read them again if you wish. I am aware that a number of my readers have no faith or a different faith from myself. I respect that and hope you will read with an open heart and mind, and enjoy the photographs

Inner Journey
Pilgrimage to Lourdes ~

Inner Journey

The lion and the rabbit  ~ like a lamb to the slaughter

The lion and the rabbit ~ like a lamb to the slaughter

This morning I read an excellent post which got me thinking.  Why do I write what I write?

I realised that for me it is, and has been for many years, an important part of coping with my journey through life.  Like everyone I have had ups and downs, good experiences and bad.  Probably the worst time of my life was when I was only 5 years old in the early 1950s.  After a serious illness and a long spell in hospital I was considered too weak to go home, so was sent to a convalescent home miles away from the city in which I lived.  It was in the depths of the countryside during the worst case of Myxomatosis this country has ever seen.  There were dead rabbits everywhere with their eyes bulging.  A terrifying sight for a 5 year old on our daily compulsory constitutional walks in the forest.  In those days it was not considered a good idea for parents to visit their children in case it distressed them, so I was effectively abandoned for months on end to what I considered to be hell on earth.

I am sure the staff were only doing their jobs; but some were quite sadistic and the cruel discipline and force feeding I endured there will stay with me forever, and is still the stuff of my nightmares.  I had to develop an alternative, inner life in order to stay sane and survive.  So I became adept at switching my feelings off and pretending to be somewhere else as I went through those long winter months.    When I eventually was taken home I discovered that my mother had a new baby, my adored grandmother had died, and I was a totally different person to the child I had been before my illness and convalescence.  I felt as if I didn’t fit in to the family any longer, and I have felt pretty much like a fish out of water ever since.

As an adult I started going on pilgrimages to find healing and peace, which I did.  But I also found a great deal more.  I found acceptance from the people I met, and I learned how to find deep joy in the simplest of things.  This has been my salvation and is the reason I call my blog “heavenhappens”.   It really does!  I look for the sacred in the everyday things around me and I find it; I wonder at the variety and beauty in all the different parts of the world; I look for and believe in, the essential goodness at the heart of most people.  Then I write poems, stories, haiku, or make drawings or collages about it.  They give my life meaning and purpose now that I am retired, and bring me a great deal of pleasure.

This is the closest I have ever got to explaining myself to the world and I don’t think it will happen again so thank you merlinspielen for the opportunity!

Just today I have been given the opportunity to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, if I am meant to go I will be there in May this year.  Maybe I will write another post about some of the places I have been on Pilgrimage but for now I will finish with some photos which to me show that heavenhappens x