25 September, 2017

Spiritual Exploration, Community, and Shared Experience - A Spirit Tours Pilgrimage

Going to France in April 2017 to explore Paris, Toulouse and Carcassonne was not on my bucket list.  At least, I didn’t know it was! I had been to Paris twice, but both trips were many years ago. However, when I read the description of the Spirit Tours pilgrimage to France, I decided to go and explore part of France that would be new to me.

I signed up for this Spirit Tours trip, which was lead by Dr. Edward Viljoen (Senior Minister of the Center for Spiritual Living, Santa Rosa), because once again I was seeking spiritual exploration, community, and shared experiences. Having been on three previous trips with the Center for Spiritual Living, Santa Rosa, and Spirit Tours, I knew that all three considerations would be realized. Plus we would be staying in some lovely and charming hotels and eating wonderful French food!) (Note: Everyone’s food requirements were able to be met during the entire trip.)

Spiritual Exploration:  The focus of this trip was on the plight of the Cathar people (who were considered heretics by the Christians), the sacred sites and areas where they dwelled and the divine feminine in the form of Mary Magdalene. Every day was filled with beauty, mystery, adventure and amazing experiences. 

Community:  There were 20 interesting and adventurous people on this trip.  Most were from CSLSR with a couple “friends of” joining as well as a traveler from New Zealand who was quickly and completely adopted by our group.  Each morning we gathered in a circle for prayer, practice, sharing and we also received an overview of our upcoming day from our Spirit Tours leaders.  We were blessed to have Janet Pullen* as our guide, as she is an authority on the Cathars and the areas of Southern France where they lived between the 12th – 14th centuries.

Shared Experience: Each day the group visited Cathedrals, basilicas, museums, chateaus, and fortresses.  We learned about history, architecture, people and religious practices.  Our guides were graciously and generously available to us as we traveled around Paris and then on to Toulouse and Carcassonne.  Riding in two small vans gave us the opportunity to get to know our travel mates along the way.

Lovely walks – hikes, views, countryside, gardens, old houses in small villages...I wouldn’t change a thing about this trip as it was so well planned and guided. I hope you consider participating in the next one. Talk to me if you want a first-hand account!

By Chandra Farnsworth 
*Janet Renu Pullen author of In Secret and Shadows  Discovering Light in the South of France

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