October 6th, 2013

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Sunday October 6th., Reims

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

I left off from yesterday’s report that I traveled through another tunnel, yesterday, 2 1/2 k.m. long. It was a very weird sensation because the round tunnel roof reflected down through the water and you could not make out the water’s surface so it seemed like I was floating, suspended in air, through the middle of a long tube. I wished I could have made a picture but i could not leave my attention from steering for a split second without bouncing against the walls. There was about a foot of space on both sides. ¬†One way traffic. These canals are built for the freight barges of Napoleon’s time. Practically all the commercial barges (“Spitsen” in Dutch) are all the same dimensions and fit snug in the locks. A few of the locks I went through on the canal I am on, here in Reims, have not been maintained since Napoleon was banned to Elba. Usually the ladders that I have to climb on to get to the lock controls have railings like in a swimming pool but these have only a few crude steel bars in the steep stone walls and then I have to get on my knees first to get upright on the top of the landing and reverse the process to get back on the boat. An U.S. liability lawyer would have found a place to hang his shingle. This is the Champagne region but you will not see a single vineyard here. Champagne is just a special fermenting process done here with grapes from the more southern area.

I took a bath in the galley sink. Went to church clean as a whistle.

Mass was a treat. The service and language was very familiar to me having gone to French services for four years in the sixties when I lived in Belgium. The sermon was from Luke 17 verse 5-10, when Jesus was asked by his disciples how they could increase their Faith and how Jesus explained how a large tree grows from a tiny mustard seed. It gives one to think when this enormous cathedral was filled with worshippers when it was built in the 13th century, when Reims probably was not larger than a tenth of its current population and much lower in resources. The service was held in the part behind the main altar and less than a hundred faithful attended, average age in the sixties. I find it hard to understand how one can trade the gift of the love of God, the promise of eternal life, and the opportunity to share his presence at Sunday services with my brothers and sisters, for something more important. I could have skipped it and be 20 k.m. further down to the Mediterranean, I guess. When I stand for hours tending the helm on these narrow waters I get a chance to reflect. I might bore a few of you with my personal thoughts. Faith is not just for saints. I am a sinner. I try, just like you, to do what is right. All I hope for is that I will always be recognized like the song: “They will know we are Christians by our Love”. And I assure you that I love you all.

Just to be sure all know this: double click on the images to enlarge them for more detail. It looks like I solved my focus problems.