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Jordan Heron - The Vanity Card Series

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I am not a religious man.

I have been. In the past, at various times, I have felt quite strongly about one religion or another. In my youth, I felt a call to the ministry, and abandoned it only when I doubted the religion itself. I doubted the tenets of the faith. I did not doubt God.

I found God, or "the gods", again, in a different religion. I actually made it into the ministry before, again, I doubted the religion. That time, I did not doubt the tenets of faith. I doubted their relevance to me.

Since then, I have gone without religion. On occasion, when I think of it, it saddens me that I have no one to share my beliefs with. Then I remember that my beliefs are not really codified enough to share with anyone anyway.

Then, rarely, I am faced with the presence of whatever it is that's out there, codified or not. There are places of power. Places that are holy, or sacred, or revered, or perhaps simply used to the point where they gather power of their own.

I was in Paris for the first time this past summer. I had very little time for sightseeing, but I did make it to Notre Dame. I am a jouster, and a minor student of western European medieval history. So, perhaps, it should not have surprised me, but it did...

I'm not Catholic - never have been - but when I approached the shrine of St. Joan, I went down on my knees and crossed myself.

Whether it was God's presence, Joan's presence, or the presence of the prayers of hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who have come to that spot, I will never know. But the presence, the feeling, the power, it was there. It really makes little difference why it was there. It just was.

I was moved and humbled, perhaps moreso than at any other time in my life, by that truly magical place. I even brought home a candle and a coin from the cathedral, hoping that I can evoke for myself that feeling once again.

It is my fervent hope that, at some point in the near future, you find your shrine to St. Joan, wherever it may be, if you haven't done so already. And if you have, I wish you a speedy return. Feelings like that shouldn't come once in a lifetime...

18 August 2010

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