• LightofFrance Feature Articles

It is Chartres that brought me back to France the second time, and every time thereafter. I re-visited Chartres six times in two years, before I realized what I was doing…

Working in Europe, delivering workshops and classes, I’d find myself at the same restaurant in Chartres afterwards, to replenish, to gather, to rest and rejuvenate.

The sixth time? I decided then and there, that if anywhere was home in France (this was in 1994), it was here, in Chartres.

This last autumn, visiting for the Nth time, had me walking a familiar walk from my accommodation into centre ville.

But the walk was different. Every year I’ve gone in, they’re always working on some huge construction project, whether it’s the cathedral itself in its renovation or the cobblestone streets and laying new lines underneath them.

This walk, this promenade, completely resurrected and bore the passage of history to honor those of Chartres; some who were part of The Resistance with the fall of the Third Reich in 1944, there in occupied France, some who never returned from the trains that took them away.

Martyrs’ ashes who perished in concentration camps lay at the foot of the shrine to Jean Moulin, with a broken pink granite sword … Placards every few feet marked the promenade of locals who fought and locals who were deported; the family names of local merchants now, whose lineage bore the cost of the freedom gained then.

Lost but not forgotten.

Walk on the continent of Europe, and you face the scars of war.

The scars, the lost remembered, the tributes to the valiant, the mirrors are everywhere.

All this smack in the middle of a bustling, noisy centre ville going about its daily business now — as then.

This emanation that does not ever die is the carrier wave of all we have been given.