avignon Archives - St. Stephen's University

A road leads a visitor gently in.

By | 2011, Europe | No Comments

A recurring thought and a prayer that has been on my mind and heart has been of city walls.  I’ve seen all manner of self protection and governance, from the walls and Papal power of Avignon and Rome to the Medici dynasty and walls of Florence.  From the trenches and tunnels of Vimy Ridge to the high house and bunker of Adolf Hitler at Eagle’s Nest.  All of these methods are used to keep beauty and life in, and safe; to keep “others” out.
We each experience things in our lives that we believe no one could understand or appreciate.  We build walls and trenches to keep our hearts safe.  The more in depth, the thicker and higher our walls get.  But the beauty of our lives still deserves to be seen and heard.  If we let visitors in, though the line might be long and trying, they will see beauty beyond compare.   
This applies, too, to a bus full of people that call themselves community.  
I see high walls in people, fortified with standing armies.  
I am no exception.  
Yet I pray for true community, when the walls come crashing down and the treasure of life and the tombs of experience are opened, when all of that wonder seeps through the cracks and holes in the walls, and, like so many of the cities I have seen, a road leads a visitor gently in, and is not stopped for fear of an imaginary foe. 
When this is shared, and the “others” allowed in to see and experience wonder, it is called LOVE.  And that relationship is called community.


Au Revoir, France. (Until we meet again in a few weeks.)

By | 2011, Europe | No Comments

Our journey through the south of France brought us to Carcassonne, Avignon, and Nice.  Since leaving Spain we have been encountered much more with the travelling aspect of this trip, having survived a number of long bus days including some mountain stretches we could do nothing but applaud our bus driver Chris for bringing us confidently and safely through!

SSU's Infamous Group Picture in Carcassonne

In our last night in France, our group spent time sharing moments on the trip where we experienced a real sense of gratitude thus far. It was a great time of reflecting and realizing that each stop has meant something different to each of us along the way.

We had the opportunity to wander through the streets of Carcassonne, an ancient turret-topped fortress the evening we arrived in France.  Some watched the city walls light up at night while enjoying local cuisine from a cafe inside the walls and others watched from a distance to see the whole city.

In Avignon, we spent part of the day exploring the Pope’s Palace then making our way through the city, stopping at cafes, shops, and the famous Pont St. Benezet (immortalized in the ‘Sur le Pont d’Avignon nursery rhyme). I think I can speak for everyone that one of our most thankful moments was arriving at Pont du Gard on a 30 plus degree afternoon, diving into the water and swimming below the three-tiered Roman aqueduct that is still, amazingly, exceptionally well preserved.

En route to Nice, we made a stop at the Protestant Museum where, as one student put it, we had the opportunity to “see where we have come from”, where many of our roots are found.

In Nice, we were welcomed by Joanna Marple, Rachael Barham’s friend who gave us a brief history of Nice as well as recommended to us some sites. Our free day brought different groups to different places; from Matisse, Chagall, and Modern Art museums to Old Nice market to pick up some lavender and herbs (some of the local specialties) and down to the beach for a final swim in the Mediterranean.

Angela Stanley (On behalf of the Europe 2011 Leadership Team)