The ritual that we are privileged to enjoy at Chartres Cathedral in France involves meditating in the chapel of the Black Madonna, Notre Dame Sous Terre, a writing of what it is we seek to release, a long walk through the candlelit crypt, visiting the burning bowl and this year, an anointing before ascending to the the Cathedral Nave and the Labyrinth. I was so grateful to be the anointer.
The pilgrims came. I watched in silent awe and admiration as the limitations were burned in the burning bowl, sometimes with great fire, sometimes with tentative smoldering. Faces were glow or full of anguish. One by one they came to me. I asked if I could anoint them, and when they welcomed me, my finger touched with the holy oil infused with rose and frankincense, I found words or gestures that honored each individual’s path. Such a practice of knowing and grace–something I have learned to do from the ground of my being.
As the Polish pilgrims approached, I had no words to anchor the gestures–simply the meeting of fragrant oil to tender foreheads, hair gently moved aside, eyes meeting, hands held. The moment that completed the circle for me came when a lovely Polish woman, fully present in her practice took my hands and ever so gently kissed my finger tips–an ancient ritual that neither of us might have guessed we remembered, executed in perfect rhythm .