HERE IS A MARVELOUS picture of the candlelight procession that forms each night at Lourdes where the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette eighteen times in 1858. As the light-procession gets underway, many dozens of swallows appear, flying over the great gathering. No mystical claim is being made. Someone will say, "Oh, the swallows are only interested in the bugs drawn to the light." So. That should never keep us from acknowledging the beauty of it, and what we might realize underneath, so to speak.
The swallows seem to be stitching heaven and earth together - repairing the spiritual tear opened by the world's hatreds and failures in justice and love. My sister pilgrim-ed with us in 2004, working at the Accueil Notre Dame, the hostel for the sick. At the end of her trip she wrote this poem called a waka (following a 5-7-5-7-7 syllable pattern).
The Saint's foot-path snakes
in candle-light procession - -
drop from the sky -- their soft 'whoosh',
breath between Hail, Holy Queens
Karen Morris ~ July '04