A Letter Home from Lourdes

Bailieborough Community School

1 Avenue,

Mgr Théas 65108,

Lourdes,

France

08/04/18

Dear Sarah,

So, it turns out that I could have brought my phone, something I know you’ll bully me for upon my return.  And I would welcome it, come to think of it.  I miss you so much that even your irritable habits of picking on me over insignificant things are something I miss back at home.  I have quite a bit to tell so here it is.  We had to get up at two in the morning in order to get the plane.  I had time to meet my leader, Michael.  We were each assigned a leader who would look after me throughout the week we were there.  There was the usual sudden unease one has once in a new country.  Did I make the right decision coming here?  Will one small mistake cost me my life in a country I know very little about?  Will I have the most horrendous trip ever?  However, these irrational fears vanished almost as soon as they appeared once I started walking through Lourdes.  It felt like the area was twenty years behind the rest of the world.  People worked in small shops or stands that sold bracelets and beads and little vales of holy water and statues made of wood of Jesus or Mary.  I thought I was going to arrive in a depressing place filled with scowling nuns and two-hundred-year-old priests slowly suffocating on their own wrinkles.  The weather was cool, and everyone had a smile on their face.  Within the first ten minutes of being in Lourdes, I felt at home. There’s a vast open space outside the town where there’s a courtyard, a football field, a picnic area, a river, a hill and many cathedrals, the biggest of which sat on a giant piece of rock which jutted out from the hill.  It’s the closest thing to Hogwarts It’s ever seen.

We’ve eaten lunch and dinner out there every evening so far. We’ve walked up the hill a few times already.  There are various sections dedicated to statues of the Stations of the Cross.  They were impressive.

My favorite part of the whole journey, by far, is the nighttime ceremony.  Every night, they have a candle service dedicated to the Virgin Mary.  Everyone carries a candle and makes their way up the hill.  A few guys carry a bit statue of her. If you could only see it. It was like the world turned upside down and you were looking out over the sea of stars before you.  I’m not really one for religion, but honestly, I’m having such a great time here.  It feels like every candle I see here is another spark of joy in my heart.  Anyone can come here and just feel at peace with the scenery, the people and I guess even God.

And seeing how this took forever to write, the next you’ll hear from me is when I arrive home.

With love,

Rian.