I apologize if the title of this post was misleading and you were expecting a page full of pictures instead of my weekly ramblings. Rather this post will contain my best attempt to capture just a small glimpse of the magic we experienced in the past two days, though words will likely fail to do this justice. This past weekend I was in the breathtaking city of Paris, experiencing some of the best moments of my life. Our two days were so jam packed with beautiful blessings and God moments that I had to start a list on my phone halfway through the weekend so I made sure to remember each and every single precious moment. Throughout several parts of the weekend my fellow travel companions and I found ourselves at a loss for words, completely speechless at the life we were living and how we had gotten to this moment of such grace and peace. The phrases “What is our life right now?” “This is the peak of my existence” and “How can life get any better than this?” were uttered every hour.
Ever since I can remember, as a young girl to my present 20-year old self, I have wanted to go to Paris, to experience the sites and the city of love that we so often see in movies and tv shows and read about in books and poetry. Since it is the middle of March and I have now been abroad for two and a half months and have gone on several different trips around Spain and Europe, the excitement of an upcoming trip had begun to lose its’ allure and had just become another thing I do on the weekends. When asked where I was going this weekend I typically responded with something like “Oh just to Paris for a few days.” having lost that initial travel buzz excitement. This “buzz” returned immediately the moment my friend and I exited the metro from the airport to our AirBnB and turned around to face the Eiffel Tower. Speechless. Moments such as this continued to happen throughout the weekend, where I would be totally caught off guard by all that I was experiencing. While talking with my mom our first night in Paris, I understood why our first few hours had already been so incredible and why the rest of the weekend would prove to be the same. We had an angel looking over us. My mom had a brother that passed away 21 years ago last Thursday and his favorite city was Paris. I felt his presence with us the entire weekend, guiding our movements through his favorite city, especially on Saturday when we passed a random street flower shop bursting with white tulips, the flower my Uncle Bob requested at his funeral and the flower that has been growing in my front yard for the past 20 years in honor of him. Thank you Uncle Bob for looking over us and for showing us the beauty and grace of your favorite place.
Here’s my long list of blessings that accumulated in two short days:
- All three of my friends and I made it to Paris and our AirBnB with virtually no problems despite the fact that we were all on different flights
- Saturday morning: our first stop was the Musée d’Orsay, a beautiful Impressionism and Post-Impressionism museum with works from Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir, and Degas
- On our way out of the Musée d’Orsay, we encountered a bunch of security and a gathering crowd of people. Moments later William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, stroll through the entrance and begin a private tour of the museum’s artwork. I was too excited and jumping all over the place to get a good picture though we were close enough to tell Kate is even more gorgeous in person.
- Ate lunch and had tea at one of the oldest café’s in Paris where some of the world’s most famous writers and painters used to hang out
- Wandered through the Louvre, seeing the Mona Lisa, Italian art and Spanish art that had been studied in classrooms and books
- Shamelessly embraced our Americanism by having a “snack” at Chipotle…
- Made our way to the Notre Dame Cathedral, where we marveled at the grandness of the holy space and the beauty of its’ stained glass
- Stumbled across the Shakespeare and Company bookstore, with rooms and hallways overflowing with English classics and poetry.
- Found our way back home by following the Seine River in the direction of the Eiffel Tower
- Picked out the world’s best French cheese at a supermarket with the help of a local French man
- Ended our Saturday eating a baguette with cheese and wine under the sparkling Eiffel Tower while listening to Ed Sheeran’s newest album
And that was all just on Saturday! Sunday’s blessings include:
- Breakfast crepes next to the Eiffel Tower followed by meringues under the Eiffel Tower
- Opportunities to marvel at the blooming spring throughout Paris, the bright blooms that provided pops of color throughout the city
- Hours spend wandering through Montmartre, a large hilly neighborhood where Salvador Dali, Monet, Vincent van Gogh, and Pablo Picasso studied and worked
- Stumbling across local street performers singing “Hallelujah” and a square filled with artists caught up in their art
- Lunch at a small French restaurant, complete with French onion soup beef bourgogne, and a crepe for dessert
- Prayers of thanksgiving in Saint Pierre de Montmartre, a church on the hill that claims to be the location where the Jesuit order was founded
- Eating macaroons on the Montmartre hill while overlooking the city of Paris landscape
- Getting to the Arc de Triomphe just as French soldiers are raising the French flag and preparing for a military parade
- Ending the day by enjoying rose macarons and thinking there is no way life gets any better than this.
I bought a book of poetry by one of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver, while at the Shakespeare and Company bookstore next to Notre Dame and, as always, her words encapsulate my feelings this weekend perfectly.
“Whistling Swans” by Mary Oliver
Do you bow your head when you pray or do you look up into that blue space?
Take your choice, prayers fly from all directions.
And don’t worry about what language you use,
God no doubts understands them all.
Even when the swans are flying north and making such a ruckus of noise, God is surely listening and understanding.
Rum said, There is no proof of the soul.
But isn’t the return of spring and how it
springs up in our hearts a pretty good hint?
Yes, I know God’s silence never breaks, but is that really a problem?
There are thousands of voices, after all.
And furthermore, don’t you imagine (I just suggest it)
that the swans know about as much as we do about the whole business?
So listen to them and watch them, singing as they fly.
Take from it what you can.