Memories of Paris

I hope my readers will forgive the interruption in the The Artist’s Way series and allow me a moment’s reflection on Paris.

champs_1996539c

Champs Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe

In no way do I want to diminish the horror of terror attacks in other countries but, perhaps selfishly, this one hit me especially hard. I worked for a French company (here in the U.S.) for fifteen years and have many friends and fond memories from that time of my life. I had the opportunity to travel to Paris once on a business trip and was able to take an extra personal day to explore the city. Memories of that trip have been flooding back to me these last few days, and I wanted to share those recollections here.

I wandered the streets of Paris alone for hours, and I felt safe. I paused in my wanderings at one of the city’s ubiquitous street-side cafés, ordered a “van blanc, sil vous plais,” and gazed out at the Pont Neuf over the Seine. I am sure my self-satisfied grin marked me as the tourist I was. It was one of those rare moments in my life when I felt completely in the moment as I contemplated my impressions of the City of Love:

— Paris is a city of more than 2.5 million people, but it feels like a small town.
— It vibrates with a joyous energy–Joie de vivre?
— It is easy to get around, even for a neophyte like me.
— The people were friendly and patient with my bumbling use of the few French words I know.

Notre Dame

Cathedral of Notre Dame

The most profound impression I recall from my brief sojourn in Paris came when I walked through the doors of Notre Dame Cathedral. I approached it purely as a tourist attraction and was caught off guard by what I encountered there. It is not the grandeur of this 12th century church, or the religion that it represents, that had a lasting effect. What impacted me most was the sense of connection I felt with the generations of souls, centuries of prayers that seemed to linger within that sacred space. Here is a place that, like it’s people, has survived wars, famine, plague, and persecution–a people who I’m sure at times thought the world was coming to an end. And I thought, “We’re still here.”

We are still here. It gave me hope then as it still gives me hope today.

Vive la France!

8 thoughts on “Memories of Paris

  1. Our hearts go out to the French people – the horrific devastation caused by ISIS is a crime against all of us. I support every effort to locate, identify, and punish the perpetrators. We in the civilized world must do everything possible to stop the violence, killing, and maiming of so many innocent souls. We must work on several different levels to accomplish this – from educational outreach all the way to extirpation of their leaders.

  2. Patty, I am glad to hear you have fond memories of Paris. I have not traveled abroad and this is one city I would still love to visit, for all the reasons you describe. It will remain a beautiful, inviting city after all the ugliness is erased. The tragic events do not diminish its welcoming sites, stories and people. It has been tarnished but I believe, although it is difficult to see now, Paris will once again thrive. The enemy can put a blemish on a place yet not destroy its true worth and value. Heaven help all the citizens of every target of the sickness and plague that strikes in Paris, Beirut and anywhere the world the terrorists choose to take down. In the end, may humanity be restored to its true God given state.

  3. This is a beautiful and timely piece on one of the cities that belongs to the world. Hopefully they are able to recover from this horror and regain some feeling of security in this beautiful and historic city.

    • Thank you, Hank. I know they have survived worse, but that doesn’t diminish the horror of the moment. Only time can do that.

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