Thursday, February 6, 2014

Ancient Wisdom

Passages in Time
Chateau du Chenonceau, France

“The life given us, by nature is short; but the memory of a well-spent life is eternal.”
       ~ Cicero, Roman orator (106 BC - 43 BC)

Just over five centuries ago, a wealthy and well-connected French financier began building a new home on the banks of the River Cher. There had been previous occupants; however, the old fortress was torn down to make room for a grander, more modern design.

Unfortunately, the demands of his job took him away from his family for extended periods of time, so the actual overseeing of the massive building project was left to his wife. This was a very fortuitous arrangement, and over the next 400 years there were a total of five remarkable women who shaped the history and design of the most well loved chateau in France - the Chateau du Chenonceau.

Gateway, Chateau du Chenonceau, France

There is an ancient wisdom coded in this place. I know because of time spent on these hallowed grounds. The journey that led me to visit Chenonceau was filled with insightful moments, and the energies of the chateau and gardens reach one at soul level.

On a winter's day, I entered the grounds of Chenonceau and stepped back in time. Guarded by sphinx statues and spanning the River Cher, I was led by a welcoming, unseen guide from one photographic opportunity to another. Through the manicured gardens and up through the levels of the chateau, until the piece de resistance came in view.

Canal Walk, Chateau du Chenonceau

Stepping into the bedroom of Louise de Lorraine, sunlight began to stream through the southern facing window, and I felt the mighty presence of an enlightening and transformative power. And a story began to unfold.

Centuries ago, a beautiful, young French queen lost her heart's true love, her beloved king. In the depth of her sorrow, she sought comfort in the healing spirit of God, through prayer within the sanctuary and solitude of her private quarters. Robed in long white gowns, she spent the remainder of her own life within the somber dark walls of this self-imposed exile.

Sanctuary, Chateau du Chenonceau
The Royal Bedroom of Queen Louise de Lorraine

Little did I know when I shot this photograph that like this queen, my life would also begin a spiritual journey that winter's day. A ray of sunshine burst suddenly through the window of this royal apartment, and illuminated not only this brief moment in time, but also my soul.

"Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly." ~ Isaiah 58:8