La Salette Shrine and Retreat Center: Talk…—and Sketch

August 22, 2022

…And now it’s tomorrow, and I have two little true life stories to tell. But first, this is the setting where I am now as I tell them:

I’ve just finished all of my green tea this morning from this little mug that I was going to rinse in the kitchen when I noticed how nicely Peeko is resting near and supportively so. I snapped a photo—he’s napping with a spirit of good company, and guarding my “replenish and restore index cards.” Peeko would notice me unwell or scattered or stressfully rearranging things on my blog in the morning before sitting with tea or breakfast each day, and he has still stood nearby at a supportive distance as I’d do one thing at a time and get good relaxation in too…First thing in the morning, when I was seated well with breakfast or tea, he’d just then go to sleep…And that little smudge on his nose is from drinking water.

In the distance is my basil plant “Baby Boy Basil” who had a very rough start when I was at first a student of nature, and I gave him a drink of water from the cool kitchen sink and he’d toppled over instantly. But he is doing well and grew all anew. Here you see my new little antique mug with blue forget-me-nots, the novel Uprooted by Naomi Novik, along with the index cards, and my pocket sketchbook that leads me toward the next part, but first:

Some weeks ago, I attended a discussion at the local Catholic shrine and retreat center La Salette. The topic was “about being good, or how to” in different life situations, taking to mind certain ‘virtues’ like prudence, discipline, loyalty, etc….

I was giggling myself but hiding it a little though, as there was a very serious air at this Catholic center evening talk…But I did like how it was an actual discussion, and the theme was a moral philosophy hypothetical, a kind someone studying philosophy may find themselves concluding at a point in a debate for completing their degree.

I wondered to myself, if I might have a ghost of heaven maybe attending this talk with me, is that okay? But it was only a joke for myself of course. Author May Ziadeh had lead talks, or speeches, like these, at Catholic centers too, I’d known, in her part of the world in Egypt and Lebanon at her 1900s – 1920s time. But she does not go most places on earth now I’ve felt, and that is fine. She would also lead her own literary, intellectual, and philosophic debates in discussion at her literary salons on Tuesdays at her home with well-known intellectuals of the day.

I had joined the discussion that evening and found I had good support for my position or opinions, but I realized not everyone there may like a debate reply (and I planned, after that, I won’t challenge anyone’s opinions, even if they sound to be lacking compassion). And the general feeling was that the people weren’t up for debate, but simply open discussion and listening. 😊💕


Yesterday, I arrived in the early day to the shrine / retreat place not to attend an event, but arrived alone to enjoy some restful time on the land and a little slow wandering around; I planned not to take photos or use my phone, unless a good urge I’d felt to capture a moment and not check them over there—there’d be always next time for media to share, and at least limit it.

The featured image shows a wonderful part of this place…

I may see one person sitting alone silently, looking at a sculpture, or some little families walking by looking at each step along the little bridge over the shallow pond…


And when I turned my camera on, I noticed a little yellow-gold bird standing on this sculpture made from a vision seen in France in 1846 by the Alps mountains of Mother Mary, and the sculpture contains a trickling water fountain. It was amusing, as I may joke about this idea of yellow-gold birds or canaries in a poem I wrote on the blog “I Wondered if I Was A Bird.”

I noticed awhile back that this place felt art-friendly, and I might see in the hallway before reaching the gift shop, a set of artwork for sale, pictures of religious art or portraits of the saints, as original paintings by an artist.

I packed in my bag, a pencil, eraser, pencil sharpener, travel colored pencils, a towel to sit on, my phone, my water canteen (there’s a water fountain indoors), keys, lipgloss, two books (the novel Uprooted that is my own copy I am reading, and a new poetry library book I haven’t opened yet.)

I also brought a big sketchbook and a pocket-one. I could tell when I sat here ready to draw a baby blue spruce across from me, that I was going to have to get up and change spots just after—too much sun in my eyes, sunglasses a little too dark and not ideal then for sketching, and my eyes have wanted much resting too, in the shade. So I snapped the photo of the moment on a quick timer with the pencils I’d picked in my hands I decided not to use after all, a quick moment’s capture, more in appreciation for the spruce tree that does not appear in this photo.

Before I did anything or went to draw really, I felt I’d like to walk around in a small area where I was and identify any plants I was drawn to with the Flora Incognita app—and then pick one to draw in color or sketch.

As you can see above in the left corner, I wrote La Salette (to remember where I was), the right side date and signature, and with the Flora app, these plants were identified as a yew tree and carpet-box shrub, the low shrub’s leaves having little tiny round beads at their center.

I wanted to draw just pencil in the pocket-book, and it was almost time for me to go. I sketched this (not very great) sketch of plants low beside the shaded stone bench where I sat comfortably.

Afterwards, I was meeting my husband to meet my sister in law Lauren for an evening sunset walk at a farm and park land on her birthday, her choice. I gave her a very big emerald gleaming tree sun-catcher with a moving quote about being a mother, kind of like a charm for anywhere. I’d found it at the gift-shop there, green is her favorite color too, and as like my sister, she is a new mom.

I am looking forward to coming to this place again another time with my nicely packable art supplies and also revisiting some of the flowers and plants I saw, and maybe walk a little more too, around the pond at the center.


3 responses to “La Salette Shrine and Retreat Center: Talk…—and Sketch”

  1. Love this Jade. So well written. ❣️Through your words and photos I felt like I went with you. The place looks beautiful and through the video, sounds so peaceful. I noticed the little bird wanting to be part of the sculpture. As tiny as she was she stood out to me. Always good to see Peeko and hope “baby boy basil” is doing well still. 😊
    Love your sketch! You are super talented.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 😀 Thanks Mom, the bird seemed more impressed to stand with the sculpture than to get a water bath or drink from the fountain!—and I am looking fwd to you coming here! ‘Baby Boy Basil’ is still doing well…and the ‘Big Baby Boy’ is excited ab life & art too.🐱

    Liked by 1 person

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