In three and one-half weeks, if all goes well, I will be hopping on a plane to, eventually, Paris (two days at Chartres included) and, ultimately, the small island of Iona off the northwest coast of Scotland.
I've been collecting but not reading books on all my destinations -- this afternoon I finally organized them into various piles on the dining room table, so that as the school year winds down I can get started.
In the meantime, I have, quite by surprise, found a new friend and guide in the person of Wayne, a retired high school teacher who works three days a week as a docent in the tiny chapel sitting above one of the lakes in the cemetery where I walk. I met him two weeks ago and discovered that he is an encyclopedia of information -- he has clearly spent years researching his chapel and, like me, he loves to travel and sent his children off to see the world, with the result that his daughter now works in Paris and his son in Quito. He and his wife will be visiting their daughter in the fall and, by the time we finished talking two weeks ago, I had convinced him, I think, to add another week and a trip to Mount St. Michel to their itinerary.
I went back today to get some more information on the chapel's Tiffany window, The Flight of Souls, since I remembered Wayne mentioning that it differs significantly from my beloved Chartres windows. He spent half an hour explaining to me the process by which Mr. Tiffany created his colored glass, using heat, oxides, and metals to create colors that swam and varied across sheets of glass, from which the shapes were then cut. His critics argued that he was creating "accidental" and, therefore, not valid art, but he was struck by the qualities of impressionist paintings and was seeking to create similar effects in glass that would enable more light to pass through the windows than makes it through the solid colored glass typical of Gothic cathedrals.
I am somewhat intimidated. The cemetery chapel is tiny indeed, and there is so much to learn from its window, mosaics, furnishings, and structure. I can't imagine how I am going to handle Chartres, Notre Dame, and St. Chapelle.