Early in the morning idiots in bright coloured lycra run up and down the oratory stairs to destroy their knees. The humidity is intense. In the séance the French continues to wash around and over: it is obdurate I am impermeable. Yesterday we had several sessions in English and I am promised more today. But for now the French drones on. Right now a lawyer is talking about human rights, I think. I wish I could understand.
After class yesterday we ascended the holy mount, 14 flights of stairs according to my FitBit. The edifice 97 meters in total height. Built in 1904 it’s a very austere design. A barren, dark, masculine tomb – womb of the world, harsh and sharp edged, perched on top of the world, thrusting, penetrating the god’s domain.
I wanted to sing into the vacuum. To break the frozen muzzle on human expression. Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Half way down, burrowed into the mount, amid the foundations of the mausoleum, there is a hidden space: the female, throbbing blood of belief. A uterus of faith rimmed by external fallopian staircases. In this womb candles flicker red and green. Prayers are offered. Hundreds of walking sticks and crutches are left behind as souls are strengthened. A smaller, older, more intimate place of communion. I took no photographs here, instead left candles lit and offered feelings of hope. If such a god exists, I trust those I have lost are held close in her womb.
The women gathered in the church under the mountain were not tourists. Some sat in prayer. Some praying rosary. Incense and prayer saturated the air. A place of peace, regeneration and life. I felt their strength. Accepted the gift of the still quiet pool of their humanity. And descended the mount.