Saturday, September 18, 2010

Waddling Around Lourdes: The Lifting of the LARD!

Today was the day: I waddled to Lourdes for the Miracle of the Lifting of the LARD! I was in the right place. The lawn at the entry gate held hundreds of crosses brought and planted by groups on pilgrimages from all over Europe and probably beyond. We even recognized some of the pilgrims as I'd almost run them over whilst driving down a very narrow street that they were walking in. Note to other would be pilgrims: Tom Tom GPS doesn't do very well in towns with very small one-way streets and lots of pilgrims. We made it, and so did they, although I have to admit that I couldn't get John "The Duke" Wayne out of my head: "Whoa, take 'er easy there, Pilgrim."

Approaching the entrance to the sanctuaries, which are actually away from the center of Lourdes, there was plenty of tempatation staring me in the face and daring me to give in. "Have a snack, have some frites. It's not too early for a beer in France!" but my will was strong. I knew I could resist and continue the War on LARD! I turned my back on LARDish sin, and waddled towards the Door of Life. Dolly-girl gave my arm a squeeze to let me know that I wasn't alone on my journey.

We headed on in. I was hoping for the entire experience, but it soon became apparent that some pilgrims were more needy than others. All the blue in the picture to the left are people in a sort of wheel chair that is either pulled by a friend or by a volunteer nurse from a local hospital. What you are looking at is the line to get into La Grotte, the spot where St. Bernadette had several visions of the Virgin Mary. These are the healing waters and you can buy all sizes of vessels to have the healing water à emporter.

Inside, there are plenty of ways to fulfill your pilgrimage. For instance, you can get a plastic cup and a small bottle to scoop up the healing waters. The prices are suggestions only--there is no price of admission and no one is turned away.

I visited the relic of St. Bernadette in a side chapel. It was a popular site with many lighting candles. A trio of Italians were trying their best to burn the place down. Unable to kindle their candles from others that were already burning, they lit some facial tissue ablaze and lit their candles from there. It didn't take more than a few seconds to fill the Reliquary with smoke and the smell of burning Kleenex. No one seemed that concerned.

Dolly-girl found a marble foot in the wall and asked it for relief from her unending problems caused by feet that have no padding. I'm hoping that some of my LARD! ends up on her feet.

I'd given up on getting into La Grotte. The line was just too long. Instead, I found a place where I could light a candle to memorialize my pilgrimage. The covered candle spots were all taken, so mine was relegated to an auxiliary, portable candle holder.

I lit my candle and placed it in the rack, murmuring quietly that I hoped all the thousands of candles were made from tallow from LARD! Warriors.

I felt a little better about where my candle was when I saw some employees cleaning out the covered racks to make room for more pilgrim tapers. I guess it's the lighting that's important, not the total burning of the candle. There were also tubs under the racks of candles to collect the wax. I hope they are recycling it into new tapers.

Then I discovered the Lourdes Diet. It has 80 Steps--in each direction! That made me appreciate the simplicity of Javier Boleyn's 2-Step DUH! Diet.

I left Lourdes a lot amazed, and I'm sure, not a pound lighter. I left knowing that the War on LARD! is something I can do for myself. It's fun to talk about the Miracle of the Lifting of the LARD!, but it was sobering to see the thousands, literally thousands, of people who were there, believing, that if they pray hard and long, and if they partake of the healing waters, they will be cured. All I have to do is Eat Less and Move More.

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