Wednesday, 7 October 2009


(why not listen to this while you read?)

There are many special moments in your life, of many different kinds… but some just surpass everything.
Often unexpected, and yet so intense that they stay with you like it happened yesterday, etched in the front-room (lol) of your brain.
You know when it happens, it alters your state of mind, your are in a HYPER mode, alert, you’ll remember the sounds, the smells… and record the ‘visual’, because you are a photographer!
Such an experience happened to me on the Mont St Michel.

It was getting later but not cooler, we decided to linger on in the church a while longer, we’d been around, so we sat on the benches, soaking up the atmosphere, admiring this in history-seeped monument.
Suddenly amongst the lazy crowds, I saw a fast movement, a nun dressed in a pale blue habit, a white veil… and a pair of boots!
My camera was up before I realised it, lol. I must be the fastest ‘shooter’ in the West?
Then she was gone, through another door I saw another, she walked reverently, went and stood for a moment in front of the
Madonna. And left.
More activity, I saw a young monk dressed all in black, there was a coming and going, I waited with a real sense of expectation; the ropes had been removed from around the beautifully ceramic-tiled floor in front of the altar.
A silence has descended, people whisper, the odd child cries, hushed quickly by the parents…
Another nun appears, she is wearing a white cape, carrying books and what seems like a small stool.
We watch as she enters the center of the church, she bows and greats the holy cross, then takes her place, kneels down, puts the stool under her thighs and bends forward for quite some time, while others prepare, one of her sisters comes and arranges the flowers.
A young monk, dressed all in black, brings and dons his white cape with great flair.
Eventually the nun straightens and reads, forgetful of the world around her; this all happens in an eerie silence, except for the shuffling of feet, the clicking of cameras, some coughing, overheated children whimpering, it seems like the stage is set…
More nuns arrive and follow the same ritual as the first, a few more monks, they are the oldest. One carries a small chair; he is too old to kneel, he is allowed to sit.
A gold leafed book was carried in and put on a lectern, the light from the windows falls on the few ‘decorations’ in this church, (as most of it was lost over all the years for many reasons), the small, delicate cross and the top edge of the missal.
It is a magic moment, as they all sit in deep prayer.
I am not a religious person; I respect the religions and their followers.
So here I sit, this cannot leave one indifferent, I find it emotional and almost ‘envy’ them for their belief, their apparent peace, their silent devotion and commitment.
I dare not move to take shots from a different angle, my camera, otherwise so quiet, now seems to go off with a huge ‘clack’ whenever I push the shutter.
Paul and I sit in the front
The young monk gets up, disappears behind one of the huge pillars, to return without his white cape, he smiles at us, half winks and nods like to say, “ now’s your moment, get ready…”, he walks towards the rope I photographed earlier, carries it till it is straight under the spire, where it disappears, high up.
He takes a deep breath, a good grip, looks up and with all his force pulls it down, and then up, at last we hear the solemn tolling of the bell.
The sound reverberates through everything; you hear it in- and outside, you feel it in your body.
After about 3 minutes, he starts to slow the bell down, he‘s skilled at this, handles that rope expertly till the silence returns.
The rope is tied back, the monk returns caped, to his place…

(… a suivre… more to follow)
THANX, M, (*_*)
Please do not use this image on websites, blogs or any other media without my explicit permission. © All rights

For the story of Day 1:

For the story of Day 2, part 1:

For the story of Day 2, part 2:

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