When I read The Provence Cure For the Brokenhearted, I was drinking lots of green tea pumping my body with its antioxidants and eating the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast) as I soothed my intestinal tract after two bad bouts of flu! This book, written by Bridget Asher, is a story about Heidi who has been widowed for two years but is still experiencing debilitating grief, her son Abbott who has become obsessed with germs, and a rebellious teenager Charlotte who is the daughter of the widow’s new brother-in-law who has married her sister. Due to certain circumstances, they end up in Provence where of course, healing occurs for each one of them.
What captivated my interest was how Mont Sainte-Victoire played such a profound impact upon the story. This mountain was depicted in many of Cezanne’s paintings since he could see this mountain outside his home. Of course, it made sense that Cezanne had to paint this mountain since he was mesmerized by light and its effects on how we see things, and we learn from one of the characters who lived by this mountain that it “changes colour through the day.” One of the characters commented that “Cezanne regarded Mont Sainte-Victoire from the front. We see the mountain from the side. La longueur. A wider canvas.”
This mountain gradually assumes almost magical properties when we learn that Heidi’s mother had come here years ago and spent much time watching the mountain until she had the answer to a life changing decision. It is no surprise then that when Heidi’s mother and other daughter fly to Provence to be with the rest of the family at the height of everyone’s struggles, Heidi’s mother tells them all to sit and look at this mountain! Of course, her daughters questioned her, (“Are you crazy?”), but eventually they responded to her order, “Get your chairs. Pick them up. Follow me.”
She proceeded to tell her daughters and her granddaughter, “This is how we’ll come to our answers and how we’ll find our resolve to stick to them.” She proceeded to tell them, “We won’t talk about anything, not until sunset at least. And then we can talk as much as we need to, but for now, quiet.” Of course, eventually, each one of them receives an answer!
This story poses an interesting challenge when I travel to Provence. As enthusiastic tourists, we are often chatting, discussing what we see, talking about where we are going next, and wondering where we are going to eat, can I just quietly regard this mountain even for a short time in silence? Ideally, I would like to view the mountain where I could see the Cross of Provence. As a more challenging exercise, it would be lovely to find a place to sit and ask this mountain a question and then just watch it.
In our world of cell phones, computers, text-messages, e-mails, Facebook, and Twitter, it is increasingly difficult quiet the babble of sounds and to hear quiet. I suspect that is why meditation is becoming more and more popular. However, I really, like the idea of posing a question rather than emptying my thoughts completely and then sitting not in a void, but contemplating a beautiful mountain. The power and effectiveness of such a challenge is likely divine since God tells us, “Be still and know that I am God.” It’s just about impossible to enter His Presence and hear His Voice if we are surrounded by noise.
Currently, I have no mountain to look at, but I have begun experimenting with quieting my mind by colouring mandalas. So far, I haven’t received any life changing answers, but I have experienced stillness and quiet reassurances. However, wouldn’t it be a wonderful memory if I could contemplate while looking at Mont Saint-Victoire and return home with the answer to a question I’ve had for 14 years? Realistically, those kind of answers probably require the kind of time that these characters were prepared to invest since it takes awhile to rid our minds of our clutter of thoughts. However, perhaps I am minimizing the magical mysterious properties of Mont Saint-Victoire!
Mandala While Sick With The Flu