LOURDES, the Diary of Grace #9 “Just feeling at peace with myself” – Jessica
LOURDES, the Diary of Grace #9. Jessica comes from London. She is in the Sanctuary with HCPT, a children’s pilgrimage Trust and she takes disabled and disadvantaged children on pilgrimage holidays here in Lourdes. She explains what is her grace of Lourdes.
When did you discover Lourdes for the first time?
I first came to Lourdes in 2007 and I was 16 years old then, and I travelled as a young helper with HCPT.
What was your best memory of the first experience?
For the first experience, my best memories were the sense of community that I felt as soon as I arrived here in Lourdes. Everyone were so caring towards each other and even strangers that you have never met before, they are so helpful and so kind. For me it really taught me to be so quite generous towards other people, and always be welcoming to others, to people that I don’t know, and it helped me to be a little bit more open to other people about my own feelings and to address some grief in my life, so really that’s my best memory, it taught me to be a bit more of an open person.
So you came back a few years later, and now what is your grace of Lourdes?
So for me, as I’ve grown older, I’ve become a bit of a worrier, I worry a lot about small things in life and I’m always stressed, and at home my job is so busy and I do a lot of other charity work and I find that I don’t really make time for myself and my family, and I feel that in my head, (my head is so busy all the time with many many thoughts), but every time I come back to Lourdes, every single year, as soon as I step into the Domain, I feel that all those concerns, all those worries they just go away, and I feel much more calm, I feel at peace with myself all the time, every year and they are people here who are willing to talk to you , even strangers, about any problems that you have and they can help you to solve them or to understand your own problems and to heal yourself, to heal not just your body but your mind, and that’s the grace that I received here, it’s just feeling at peace with myself.
Could you describe what happens when you arrive in the Domain?
For me it’s a feeling, I feel like always I feel like I walk around with a weight on my shoulders, but it feels like it’s lifted, it feels that there is a pressure on my chest always but it feels that it’s relieved, and I feel like I can breathe normally, breathe deeply, whereas when I am at home and I’m busy all the time, sometimes I feel like I forget to breathe, and so for the first time, when I step into the Domain, I feel I can take a breath of fresh air, for the first time.
Is it difficult for you to leave the Domain when going back home to London?
Always, always, I often worry before I come on pilgrimage about leaving again, because I know, I have the experience every year of feeling tranquil and feeling calm whilst I’m here in Lourdes, and then as soon as I’m going to leave I think oh no, when I go back it will be really bad again and I will be so stressed, but you take away, every year that you come here, you take away new lessons about how to be a better person, or how to deal with these worries, these anxieties, or even other people that might be difficult to you, or difficult relationships in your life, and so every year I learn a little bit more about how to be a better person. So I try not to worry any more about going back home.
What is your definition of a grace of Lourdes?
For me, a definition of a grace of Lourdes is a feeling of healing from our Mother Mary and of forgiveness as well, and when I come to Lourdes, I feel that I’ll go to the Grotto and I’ll pray or just be silent, I feel like I receive the grace that our Mother Mary is listening to my prayers, and I feel that when the pressures of my worries are lifted, that’s grace for me.
A few words about your experience with disabled people: what does it give you?
So when I first I arrived in Lourdes I first travelled with HCPT when I was 16 and I had no experience with disabled or disadvantaged children at all because I was still young myself, and it was a scary experience. I did not know how to look after others but for me, it really taught me how to be a caring person and to learn that communication isn’t just words; you can communicate in many different ways and symbols, anything...eye contact. It also taught me that they are people in the world who are much more disadvantaged than me, but they are still happy, so it really teaches me to be more grateful for everything I have in my life.
A last word, for people who are watching you, to invite them to come to Lourdes.
So Lourdes is such a special place, it’s beautiful, the surroundings here are just stunning and the buildings themselves are magnificent, but the thing that really strikes me about Lourdes is that atmosphere, and the still quiet as soon as you walk into the Domain, and how peaceful everything is, and you really feel a sense of prayer, faith, and everyone around you is experiencing the same faith as well, and it’s something that nobody can tell you what it feels like, you must come and experience that faith for yourself.
If you have received a grace in connection with Lourdes, or have been a witness to such a grace, you may send your testimony to this email address: email@example.com