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Mont St. Michel Wanderings (and Musings)

Three Septembers ago I walked the Way of St. James from Pontorson to Mont St Michel. Don’t be too impressed — it’s maybe six miles. All of it flat land. Ten miles if you count the miles I walked while lost in a farmer’s field en route.

You have to wonder how I got lost in the first place. It’s like being in Denver and wondering how to get to Vail. Should I head toward the flat, vast landscape of nothingness or toward the mountains? And yet I was lost in France for hours. In retrospect, I wondered if I had spent the walk really seeing anything or simply wandering around in my head. The town will wake you up, though. A muddle of stairways, alleys, courtyards, paths, tourists congregating.

I saw no one on the walk over. Turns out they were all there at Mont St Michel. Waiting. Not a one of them seemingly worried about a thing.

The Archangel Michael had told the bishop of Avranches to build a church on a rocky mount. This church. Do it or face the consequences, Michael said. The bishop wasn’t too concerned and ignored him. So what did Michael do? He burned a hole in the bishop’s skull. The bishop got what was coming to him. He had had plenty of warning. The bishop also got a second chance, and with it he built an oratory at the mouth of the Couesnon. It was meant to last an eternity, and here it stands today.

I like to think of Mont St Michel as a place where you can purge your sins, current and long carried, real and imagined. And why not? The imagined kind are but false idols lugged about, needy children that cry when you try to put them down.

Truth be told, touristy sites like Mont St Michel aren’t too often on my radar. But the protagonist in my novel makes a trip to Normandy and stops by the monastery, so what choice did I have? It’s a tough go, this novelist gig. Lots of mulling over the whats, whys, and wherefores of life. Getting lost, being found by the traveling hordes. I even got to meet up with my friend LuAnne and find a swell new town, Le Vigan en route to Barcelona.

On an unrelated note, I’m planning to set my next novel in Bora Bora.

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