Ana and I have been in Switzerland, just outside of Basel in the countryside, right where the three countries meet (Switzerland, France and Germany) for the past five days. We are headed home later today. We chose this area because we belong to something called “Trusted Housesitters” and for a little fee we can apply to go to people’s homes while they are away and take care of their pets and we can have people apply to come to our home to take care of our pups. We applied for this home and got to come to this amazing house with two amazing pups. We have really been enjoying hiking all over the countryside with these pups bounding next to us.
Plus, originally, we were excited that it was Basel’s Carnival time, what they call Fastnacht. It is the first three days after the first Sunday of Lent. But it was cancelled this year due to the Coronavirus scare. This meant that all of the museums stayed closed however.
Yesterday Ana had to work and I had originally planned to go back into Basel to go to one or two of their plentiful interesting museums. I decided that I did’t really want to take public transit into Basel to just walk around since most things were closed this week. I was yearning to do something with my free day. This area is sooooo beautiful that I also wanted to spend as much time out in it and out of the city. It has been incredibly relaxing and refreshing to be out in nature and not in the middle of cold concrete. I did some research and found a monastery not too far away. I could easily get to a tram station just 2km away from the monastery and hike in. It seemed to be a place for pilgrims to go to. There is a shrine to Mary there, built into the rock of the mountain, that is said to give courage to those who make a pilgrimage. This was it. My thing for yesterday.
I took the bus and then the tram to Fluh Bahnhof and started the trek to the monastery. It was 2km but straight up onto a mountain. I started the climb but had to stop frequently because the view was so incredibly breathtaking.
When I reached the top I saw beauty and peace. There were trails all along the plateau and a trail directly to the monastery. I felt like a pilgrim again. I walked along the clearing and approached the main portion of the monastery. When I walked in I realized I had made it just in time for midday prayer. While in German (with a Swiss accent and yes it is different), I couldn’t follow along but I could close my eyes as the monks chanted and feel at peace in this place. I prayed for our journey, for my journey, for our Lenten journey and for those I brought along with me in my heart.
After prayer I followed the signs down to the shrine of Mary. In the rock formed chapel. there were a handful of women already at prayer with their rosaries in hand. I found a spot and prayed for a while, listening to the clicking of rosaries. After I time I meandered out of the lower chapel and wandered into the pilgrim’s shop. I bought a traditional Swiss bakery item, bread with cumin (delish) and a water and decided to wander around some more until the next bus came up to the monastery in 20 minutes. As I wandered I found this….
I was on the Swiss version of the Camino. In Germany and here in Switzerland we call it Jakobsweg but it all feeds to Santiago. If you look real close you can see how many km to Santiago. Even though we have decided to walk from St. Jean on Aug. 31st we are clearly already on pilgrimage for these many months. I have heard it said that you begin your pilgrimage the minute you decide to go and I am feeling that now.
It was good to be a pilgrim yesterday and on my way.