Brick and stone and blue skies.

The second half of my week in Wisconsin the weather was blue skies and perfect Autumn. Pearl took me to downtown Milwaukee for a brief tour of a few places. We saw the new skyscrapers and the tall old buildings, which seem to blend well stylistically with each other. They made me want to take a virtual tour of the architecture of Milwaukee, or even better, to come back another day for an on-the-ground tour.

We walked along the Milwaukee River a bit, and bought cheese and sausages.

And saw these sidewalk tiles evoking Paddle-to-the-Sea, perhaps?

Pearl’s husband Nate works at Marquette University now. We walked on campus…

…and headed for the little chapel that Nate had told me about many months ago when he first encountered it; he knew I would want to visit it, too.

It’s the St. Joan of Arc Chapel, dating from 15th century France, which has twice been taken apart stone by stone and reassembled. In the 20th century it was given to the University where it has been a house of worship on the Marquette campus since 1966.

Many years ago I read Mark Twain’s Joan of Arc, which he considered to be his best book. It is completely serious, and fascinating. Joan’s story is so compelling and strange — I would love to read that book again. Just being in this chapel, decorated with some artifacts that are older than the building itself, and are there for the touching, made me feel that I must surely have at least a few drops of French blood in my veins!

My dear daughter and I wrapped up my stay with a hike in the woods. After the rains, the leaves had taken on more color, and many were drifting down through the forest, which would have been deeply quiet had we not been crunching along and chatting. During my stay the weather had been ten degrees warmer than average for this time of year. All in all, it was a happy introduction to Pearl’s new home. The next day I would fly away and be gone.

12 thoughts on “Brick and stone and blue skies.

  1. The chapel is beautiful, and so is the street tile. It’s always such fun to explore a place and find those little details that help to make it what it is — and more than it is. The phrase “a whole greater than the sum of its parts” comes to mind.

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  2. So beautiful, all of it….My daughter and I ate there beside the river, years ago when Sofia was a baby and I went with them to a conference to babysit….I know one should feel the presence of God everywhere, but some places make it so much easier, so much more real. I am sorry I never saw that chapel on the Marquette campus.

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  3. Glad you are in fresh air and clear skies and safe from fires. Saddened by stories about the devastation in northern CA.

    We used to live in northern Illinois, about thirty minutes from Milwaukee. It is a nice little city. In fact, we were closer to Milwaukee than Chicago, but the convention was to say that we were in the Chicago area.

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  4. What in interesting tile – I love it! And the chapel – it looks like a lovely spot, all around. Even Milwaukee seems a very attractive place. I’m glad you’re safe from fires, and sorry for that whole situation.

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  5. Gretchen, what a beautiful visit! Your post exudes the quietness of it all. I love the look of that beautiful chapel, and now I want to read the Twain book. So glad you could visit with them. That university – the photos you showed, looks so old world. And the trees are majestic!

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  6. O Gretchen, how your words and photos refresh my soul! I am in the darkest and most painful period of my life right now, yet every day God reminds me anew of His glorious and faithful presence. One way He does that is through your blog! It is always fun and surprising to me to read your references, especially to books, as I do not seem to know others who have also read them, including today’s delightful reminder of Paddle to the Sea, one of my childhood favorites. I got married in a Renaissance replica chapel on the campus of my university, which looked a lot like the gorgeous one you visited. Thank you for bringing so much beauty into the world with your blog.

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