"Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom." -Marcel Proust
Thank you, readers, for helping my soul to blossom.
With this message, I want to take you to one of the most peaceful places I've ever visited: the Abbey of Senanque.
This is a real, working abbey in the south of France. You may have seen photos of it before.
The monks who live there cultivate lavender. They also have a wonderful bookstore full of religious books.
Gregg and I visited there, years ago, out of season, when the lavender was not blooming. I've never forgotten it; I always wanted to return to see the lavender in full bloom. It is like being in a different world.
We went to Senanque last summer. As soon as we arrived, the excitement of returning to share it with David mingled with regret that Katie wasn't with us to experience this holy, peaceful place.
As I started to feel the sadness of missing her creeping over me, I looked to my left, and this is what I saw:
A butterfly lit upon one of the lavender bushes, as it was standing in full bloom in the evening sun. I have no question that this was God's way of allowing Katie to let me know that she was with us, in a way. Not the same as having her with us as a healthy, happy 14-year-old girl, but better than nothing.
The altar at St. Mary's Church, Antibes, France, 2009
On this Christmas Eve, as many of us are missing precious loved ones, may God again fill our hearts with an awareness of their presence and their love, somehow, in some way.
May we know that we are all living a brief part of eternity here, and that God is right now loving us, as He has showed us His love in countless ways. Christmas is one of those ways.
Detail of the altar.
God bless you, and Merry Christmas to you!