Thursday, March 11, 2010

A step back in time.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I'd forgotten all this time to write about our last day in Milwaukee! I must remedy that. :) Last summer was doubly exciting, because, not only were we at a ballet intensive, but we were in a big city for the first time ever! We weren't even in the city much of the time, because the actual classes took place in a suburb, but it was still exciting. I think we'll probably die of excitement next summer when we're in the actual city the whole time! :D

So anyways, Dad came down for the last few days, and the morning after the performance we checked out of our awesome hotel and headed home, taking a detour through Milwaukee on the way. We tried to go to Mass at St. Stanislaus, but it turned out that was going to be that evening, so we drove out by the lake. We were a bit pressed for time so we didn't stop, and stopped at a Starbucks on our way back downtown. It felt so...urban...to stop at a little Starbucks in a tall brick building in a big city and order a latte. Mine tasted terrible, but oh well! It was still extremely fun.

We decided to stop at the library. On the way there, we saw a movie being filmed! I've no idea what movie it was, but they had extras in old fashioned clothes, old cars, big cameras, everything! It was awesome, and we drove around the block a couple of times, excitedly staring out the car windows. Evangeline and I were also thrilled to see signs for the Broadway production of "Phantom of the Opera" hanging on kiosks! I tried to take a picture of one, but we were going too fast.

Then we came in sight of the library - major excitement! That's it in the picture to the right. I'd heard about libraries that were that big, but I'd never actually seen one. That is a library!

So we went inside, and wow...it reminded me of dreams I've had! I often have dreams about buildings, usually houses or libraries, and this was just like something I would see in a dream. The dream-like feeling intensified as we walked through and I realized that it was like many, many libraries all in the same building, and each one the size of a normal library in a modest-sized town! Dad's comment: "Wow. When you and Bailey grow up and are dancing down here, Mum and I will move down here too and I'll just spend every day at the library!"

I really want to go back and spend a whole day at that library sometime. One place I'd like to see is the Rare Books Room. It's locked, of course, but I was able to look through the windows and see a dimly-lit room, with rows and rows of shelves full of old books. There were even little balconies with more shelves. I would love to go in there someday!

We had to leave all too soon, however, but we still had one more place to visit before returning home. I don't remember where we found out about it, but we knew that there is a chapel on the campus of Marquette University that was originally built in Domremy, France. You can click here for the history of it that appears on the Marquette website. According to legend, St. Joan prayed in this chapel before leaving her home, and kissed one of the stones, which has ever after remained colder than the surrounding stones.

So we decided to visit it, especially seeing as Evangeline's confirmation saint is St. Joan. It took us a little while to find it, but after walking around the campus and asking some people for directions, we found it, deeply surrounded by trees and gardens. As you push open the wooden doors, it's incredible to consider that, nearly a thousand years ago, people were here, worshiping God, and that one of those people was St. Joan herself.

We knelt on kneelers in the back of the chapel, prayed a while, and then began walking around and looking at everything. The chapel is tiny, with deep stone walls and a few ancient tapestries. Being around history is awesome, and that is, in my opinion, one disadvantage to living in America - we just don't have that many old buildings. Being in that tiny medieval chapel almost gave one a feeling of stepping back in time.

As we walked around, a lady appeared from the sacristy. She proceeded to loudly explain the history of the chapel, which sort of bothered me...I like to quietly absorb things. :P But then Dad asked her where the famous stone was, and she led us to it. It's to the left of the altar, and she explained that if you place your wrist on one of the surrounding stones for ten seconds and then place it on the stone St. Joan kissed, you will feel that it is indeed colder.

Evangeline went first, since St. Joan is her patron. She felt the stone for the prescribed time, and then came away with a look of awe. "It really is colder." Next went Dad, who said, "Wow. That is incredible...it brought tears to my eyes." Then I walked up and laid my hand on one of the stones. I counted to 10, and then placed my hand on the stone she had touched. The stone really was much colder. Like Dad, it brought tears to my eyes...it was such an amazing manifestation of God's power. It's so hard to describe, but if you're ever in Milwaukee, do visit the Joan of Arc chapel!

And then we returned back to the sunny, bustling world of a July day in 21st-century Milwaukee. But a little bit of that wonderful, otherworldly joy and peace I had experienced in the chapel remained in my heart.

2 comments:

Alison said...

Bah, Starbucks! Next time you're in Milwaukee, go to Alterra. The coffee is excellent (especially with an almond croissant!) and it is a locally based institution. :)

The Joan of Arc chapel is a true treasure for our campus.. It's so lovely to visit in the middle of the day. I always find a handful of students there for quiet meditation between classes. We also have some J.J.R. manuscripts in our rare books collection. =)

Jessica said...

Wow this sounds like a special trip with some awesome experiences. I will have to visit the Joan of Arc chapel if I am ever in that area...which I should be someday.

Oh seeing a movie being filmed that is soooo fun!

P.S. You have been tagged!