Wednesday, June 4, 2008


I spent today in the City of Love and my feet are definitely all loved out. A day simply isn't enough time to fall in love with the city, but it is enough time time to climb half the stairs therein.

I was part of the team that went with my art professor to carry out a project filming spiral stairs cases, so we hit up all the towers we had time for in a mad rush through the city.


Our day began at Sacré Coeur (which could be summed up as "trial and error" much to Pancake's dismay) and then we got on the Metro where a street performer with a golden mic and an amp duct-taped and bungee corded to a dolly serenaded us for a few stops before realizing that no one was impressed enough to cough up a Euro.

From there we trekked to the top of the Pantheon, the Arc de Triomphe and by this time were really aching for some French food. Crêpes. I need a crêpe stone when I grow up. A big, flat, round, crêpe stone that magically creates manna topped with Nutella and banana. Mmm. I swear the crêpe was so big I could have been rolled up in its large, round, deliciousness.

Tree lined boulevards converge. Top of Arc de Triomphe.

The biggie was next and we stood in line for a bit before climbing the stairs to one of the greatest views in Paris. Pancakes watched our bags while the rest of us shimmied up the narrow spiral stars with the camera before surfacing atop Notre Dame de Paris.

Two things struck me while letting the wind whip through my hair, looking out over the city. The first was how disordered and crammed the city is. The whole thing seemed like a labyrinth to me. No ninety-degree corners, no blocks, no patterns, just jagged, winding, angular, meandering streets with buildings designed to appropriate every space they can. It's like a concentrated drop of humanity. I thought about how much life was contained in every square foot and how many stories each of those lives could tell. People have come to fascinate me and I find myself constantly wondering about that woman on the Tube, the man who took my ticket, the boy crying, the woman performing . . . Everyone has so much to share, to celebrate, to commiserate.

We got down and headed to a sight that I studied last fall and wrote down as a "must see" in my lifetime. Little did I know that I would see it so soon. As we climbed the stairs and entered the nave my breath was taken as the walls of glass overwhelmed me. I hate how pictures can't capture the majesty. The array of color and pattern made me have to stop and stare. I could have spent twice as long with my mouth gaping open at the thousands of feet of glass staring down at me.

Walls of glass.

One of my favorite parts of Paris was a little side church called Saint Germain. It is one of the only churches I've been to that maintained an atmosphere of worship. I spent a bit of time watching an elderly woman pray and then walk so reverently her heels didn't even clack on the stone floor. I was impressed by her devotion and quiet respect. A bit of restorative work was being done to the murals and it was neat to watch two women stand back, stare, stand close, scrutinize, stand back, whisper, stand close, brush with their hand . . . it looked like quite the process. The apse seemed to have been burned; only flashes of color shown through the black charred ceiling but it added to the whole ambiance of the structure.

I was overcome with gratitude sitting there. Grateful to be in Paris. Grateful to be with great people. Grateful to be safe and happy. And grateful most of all for all good things that lead me to a firmer knowledge of my Lord and Savior.

The day was inspiring.

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