Still feeling a bit glum about leaving Bruxelles and barely settled into seat 17F, the Catholic nuns sharing my row are fully engaged in my direction, trying to peer over my lap and the airplane wing.
Their curiosity lands squarely in my lap, and for the next 85 minutes, I am reminded of why I am traveling, to push and pull philosophies and world views and to see how others orient themselves.
Sisters Benedicte and Monique in their blue habits, white head scarves, and wire rimmed glasses, tell me of how their callings came, one progressively, the other abruptly as a teenager.
Their words, their vocabulary, is different, but the message is the same as the one I encountered elsewhere around the globe, be it a Buddhist temple or Shinto shrine. Their peace, their strength, comes from being in tune with an inner voice, a light, a source of wisdom.
They happen to personify him as god.
I tell them about coming from an atheistic background and about how I’ve stumbled upon their sentiments in other religions, other philosophies, to which they nod in understanding.
This isn’t a pissing contest about being right or wrong, but rather, about trusting that you have a reason for being here, for facing your obstacles, for growing as a person, in your unique way, for radiating from the inside out, for listening and manifesting your truth.
The flight arrives to Geneva an hour late thanks to the handicapped person who waited over an hour himself to be descended from the plane when it originally landed in Brussels, and I am happy to find my aunt Nathalie there and for a continuation of family.
After a refreshing meal of salad, smoked salmon, and baguette in Versoix, Nathalie gives me a token she picked up on travels in Spain. This, my godmother tells me, reminded her of me when she saw it. Inside, I find a stone wrapped in wire.
It’s an aqua marine.
The store owner tells Nathalie that sometimes, when people come to the store with someone in mind, a singular stone commands their attention, as if conjured by that person. Not knowing its significance, Nathalie picks it up for me, and only later does the owner tell her it’s the traveler’s stone.
This morning, while browsing through my cousin’s tiny book of baby names while in her newly and gorgeously decorated Brussels apartment of light greys and dark slate walls and white trim, I inevitably check for my name and its entourage of meanings and significances. Therein, I find Gwendoline and reference to Saint Gwendoline and her life in the 4th century and holy day on October 14 and mention of my namesake’s gemstone.
It’s aqua marine.