Tuesday, March 25, 2008

waking to a new song

In the movie, “Dan in Real Life,” Julliette Binoche’s character describes her perfect day as “waking up in a foreign country, not really knowing the language, ready for adventure, so amazing.”

I ran across those words this morning as I took a quick peek into my Paris journal. As I have mentioned here before, I have been dreaming in French since I returned from my trip. One of the outstanding lines is “Je ne parle pas Francais”…I don’t speak French. Many wonderful comments were left about the wildness there is in not understanding language and I plan to continue to ponder, collage and sort through what that means for me. Today, however, I was delighted to read my own words written shortly after I returned to Seattle.

listening to the patter of language around me…not having to partake or be responsible for what was going on…just listening...like music—listening to a song I could not understand, but still loving the melody and the message…a lullaby…a love song…written just for me…this past week was my love song to myself…a beautiful gift that only I could give.

When you do not understand the language around you, where do your thoughts go? Do you fight it and retreat? Or do you choose to hear it as a new song around you? Maybe it is a beautiful love song or possibly it is a fight song you would rather tune out. What is the language you hear today—wherever you are?


"glory" photo from musee d'orsay

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Reflection

even in death and darkness, there is the light.
redemption. resurrection.
words of my childhood
words of my faith
words of my hope
the eyes of Jesus
death in the tomb
the light of new day
it is there
always there, heavenly Father
Mother of heaven and earth
light shines upon me and through me
the eyes of Jesus
head bowed
hair flowing
the cross & resurrection
new birth of Easter
peace flows like a river from the light
to death and beyond
peace in the garden
fleeing the tomb
he is risen
she is risen indeed.

photo taken Easter morning 3.23.08 @ crown hill cemetery

Friday, March 21, 2008

the wonder of little boys

This morning while reading this post, I was touched by the images of discovery and childlikeness. While in Paris, in addition to dog stalking which sounds reasonably odd, I was also drawn to child watching (which I realize could move from "odd" to downright creepy in many contexts ☺.) Not to worry, however, I was most touched by the sense of wonder in the children I observed. Sue's post included this special T.S. Eliot quote:

We shall not cease from exploration,
And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.

So, I am sharing a few of my Paris children (all little boys). I have not included the girls because today I think of my own beautiful boy who at near age 19, has a hard time remembering his own sense of wonder.

And although, my big boy may think he is all grown up, I still remember when his sense of joy and wonder filled his life, because...

He is mine; And I have different eyes That hold his yesterdays In pictures no one else remembers:

Waiting for him to be born,
Not knowing who he would be, The moments of his childhood, First steps, first words, Smiles and cries, And all the big thresholds Of his journey since...

He is mine in a way
No words could ever tell; And I can see through The stranger he has become And still find the countenance of my son.**

**adapted from John O'Donohue blessings.

photos from Paris. last photo circa 1994--j & me

Thursday, March 20, 2008

What's your best?

Geez Louise, this process of wounding, healing, living fully, loving well…is all so exhausting. Should it be? What is the cost of living well? Or thinking you live well? From where does the pressure come? If I was brilliant yesterday, does that mean I must be brilliant again today or I am a failure? Don Miguel Ruiz says, “Always do your best.” Some days that means you pull the covers up and stay in bed.

As I was writing this little rant, I looked out of the window and saw a beautiful little sparrow in the fresh spring blossoms of my ornamental plum tree. It reminded me of a Bible verse which quickly slipped my mind, but I landed on “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” It is apt, but not the one for which I was looking. Wait, here we go: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

How do we stay in relationship (or do anything) if we are constantly worrying about wounding and being wounded. What does it mean to find our own rhythm in the context of relationship? It is such a paradox. A paradoxical dance. I want to see well. I want to be in relationship. I want to find my own pace and rhythm.

Since I returned from Paris, I have been dreaming in French. One of the phrases, that sticks out in my mind is "Je ne parle pas Francais." I don’t speak French. Translated for me from dream world, it means I don’t speak the language. Is that what living life means? Constantly trying to learn the language of ourselves and of those around us? Who does the wounding? Who is responsible for the healing? Can love overcome all? Is it as simple as “turning it over to Christ?” So simple. So hard. So challenging.

Today I will choose to do my best. Who knows what that will look like? Maybe it is some ramblings on a page. Maybe it will be some completed tasks. Maybe it will include pulling the covers back over my head. Life is exhausting…AND it is an amazing and wonderful adventure…Maybe it’s worth peaking through the covers to see what’s out there. Maybe it's worth doing my best...whatever that may look like.

Thoughts? Stirrings? Rants, perhaps?

photo: 'waiting for the bus' by lucy

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Paschal Mystery

"Christians speak of the "paschal mystery," the process of loss and renewal that was lived and personified in the death and raising up of Jesus." --Richard Rohr

Welcome back. So, I am a little freaked out right now, because I read the above words from a morning reading AFTER I spent my quiet time alone this morning and wrote the following (unedited):

Trust. Trust you will be held with your strong hands and mine too. Trust the process. Unfinished. We wound and we are wounded. We are never healed, but always healing if we allow ourselves to heal--to trust we will go up and down and all around. Wounding. Wounded. We wound because we are human. We heal because we are made in God's image. Healed from the tomb. Nailed to the cross and risen again.

I have been nailed to the cross time and time again. Wounded and wounding. Healing. An unfinished woman. We are moving forward. Gratitude. The healing that continues to take place in me. The woundedness and the healing. Momentarily healed, but then a new wound appears or maybe a very old one we were unaware of. We have the opportunity to receive grace and heal again. Some wounds heal quickly and some are deep and leave scars that are like gouges to our soul, but our soul survives. No matter what, the light cannot be extinguished.

Wounded and healing. Loss and renewal. Is this the "paschal mystery" of which I write? What does healing and wounding look like for you? I'd love to know your thoughts. It is a mystery to me...a paschal mystery, perhaps ☺. (By the way--I do not recall ever hearing the term paschal mystery before this morning. hmmmmm....)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Blue Dancers

Life comes rushing in so fast. I wake up dreaming of the Musee d’Orsay, Tess, the grandmother & her boys (who I have not had a chance to write about), Blue Dancers. I want to return to Paris. There is so much left undone. No regrets except maybe that I did not ride the carrousel ☺. Still, I know I will return.

I have been dreaming in French. Soon the trip will start to fade. Not so quickly for me, but it will certainly fade for others. Their lives are not changed by me. I think of Ally and the lives she touched. The life she lived. Yesterday was a day filled with memories of her just as today will be and probably—hopefully—tomorrow.

I miss Paris. I did not have to worry about so much there. I could wake up and let the wind blow me where it would. Now I am here. My dear husband sleeps next to me. The dog wants attention. My daughter is being a little snarly. (Is something wrong or is it just “normal” teenage angst?) My son is in treatment again. Lord, please help him. Help all of us.

I don’t want my journal to move away from Paris. I don’t want to leave there. I don’t want to jump into the seemingly million obligations that await me here. I just want to write about the Musee d’Orsay and Blue Dancers.

Alas, life slips in. How can I live today as though on the wings of Paris? How will I choose to live these moments fully? How will you?

Image Edgar Degas', "Blue Dancers"

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Au Revoir, Paris--musing #9

“Breathe deeply,” said Aurore (my Paris hostess) as we parted ways. My first walk out of the neighborhood found my local patisserie, Jean Millet, closed. “Quelle horreur!” I thought it must be closed on Friday and found that I could not bring myself to enter another café. And so, I walked around and said good-bye to the Eiffel Tower from the first place I saw it at Pont de l’Alma. The morning was gray again like when I arrived only not quite as wet and rainy. I stood on the bridge and watched the people heading to work. I’d like to believe I did not stand out as l’Americain. This had come to feel like home.

I returned to my apartment for a quick stop and resigned myself to going to Starbucks down the street. At least I could do a little comparison shopping at a semi-familiar place. I was not willing to risk having a mediocre cup of coffee at a new café--rather to have something vaguely familiar. And then I saw it—the night time bars removed from my favorite haunt and “Voila!” they were open for business ☺.

I finally felt confident enough to use a little more French with the Madame.
“Comment allez vous?”
“Bien et tu?”
“Tres bien,” I said, but in truth I was a little sad. Still I ordered my breakfast. “Je voudrais un grand café au lait et un croissant, s’il vous plait.” (This was a far cry from the stumbling, “Uhhhh????” of a week ago ☺.)
For one last time, my coffee came in its beautiful China cup. The espresso served first followed by the little pitcher of warm milk. The croissant tasted especially buttery and fresh this morning. Pure heaven!

As I prepared to leave the café, I told the shopkeeper that I loved her shop and thanked her for her recommendations as well as telling her it was my last morning. She said, “Wait! I have something for you. You will like it—a souvenir to take back with you.” She left and came back with a straw “Jean Millet” tote bag and a nice little French pastry cookbook. Tres bien!

As I left the shop, there was one more surprise for me—Madame Martine and Ginger were coming up the street. I said, “Au revoir and it was a pleasure meeting you.” Martine told me not to be so sad for leaving Paris. It would always be there.

“It is in my heart”, I told her.
She said, “See you again. You will be back. Same place” and she pointed to Millet.

Nothing will ever compare to this first amazing trip. It was exactly what I needed to do for me. As I walked through rue Cler slowly breathing in the morning, I knew that I was a different person than the one who arrived eight days ago. I was more of me. It was like I found a piece of myself that had been tucked away for awhile.

I strolled once more through the market. The locals had their shopping carts and the dogs were out en masse (in a very lovely sort of way.) It was a little drizzly and threatened to rain, but that never happened. I visited the streets that were foreign to me a week ago that now felt like home. I snapped a few more shots—stalked a few more dogs—enjoyed the lovely aging people. As Tess said, “The older women are not ‘invisible’ here.” (I think I would love to grow old in France with my little shopping cart and sensible yet still stylish shoes ☺).

When I turned the corner to go back to my apartment for one last time, I saw the taxi. My taxi—15 minutes early. The cab driver was polite, but not talkative. The trip to the airport felt like the final scene of a movie complete with operatic soundtrack. We toured through the Right Bank (a place I spent very little time). I saw sights I had missed along the way—the couture houses, Hermes and others. Then up the Champs de Elysee and back to the Arc de Triomphe where it all started.

Au revoir, Paris. Je t’aime!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

where have all the poodles gone? paris #8

Sitting here on my last morning in Paris I find myself wondering...where have all the poodles gone? Paris is full of dogs. Big dogs. Little dogs. White dogs. Black dogs...actually mainly white dogs. (Hmmmm...wonder what's up with that?) Les chiens are on the Metro, in the cafes and fine restaurants, strolling through the parks and along the Seine. In all of my wanderings and dog stalking, however, I only came across one poodle!! But oh what a poodle he is!!!

I would like for you to meet Ginger. Ginger belongs to Martine who in return speaks lovingly of her very own Mr. Darcy. Tess and I met Martine & Ginger at my favorite little neighborhood patisserie, Jean Millet. They occupy the far corner table and have done so for 15 1/2 years (which happens to correspond with Ginger's age.) Martine described Ginger as a "confused male poodle" since he has lived with a female name for his long life. He was thus named because of his beautiful color. Currently Ginger is deaf and basically blind, but continues to enjoy his morning stroll and cafe sitting with Madame Martine who is a definite treasure herself. Oh, Paree...you have to love it!!!

See more chiens (pups) at lucy creates!!!

Absorbing Paris--reflection #7

"Paris is to be absorbed in through the pores...sensing it and feeling it rather than seeing and doing. When you sit at that cafe with that glass of French wine and write in your journal (or on your maps and guidebooks!) raise a glass to yourself for giving yourself this amazing gift!"

This wonderful quote was given to me by Kate I before I left for Paris. Today as I find myself just a little melancholy as I must attend to the details of preparing to leave Paree tomorrow, I wanted to make sure Kate knew I succeeded in following her wonderful recommendation. Here is an excerpt from yesterday's journal:

Today I am pinching myself. Everything is so delicious...so French...sitting in Cafe Panis at rue LaGrange across from Notre Dame. It is still cold, but the sun is shining. My kir champagne was just poured and I shall toast to myself. I am beautiful, brave and in Paris!

Yesterday was one of those magical days where everything fell into place and the day poured on and on with new delights around every corner. I returned for a visit to Notre Dame to sit in remembrance and light a candle for my friend, Allyson, taken from life too soon. I climbed to the top of the tower and stood in the crisp, cold sunny day overlooking the panoramic view of Paris. Absolutely breathtaking!

My next stop was Shakespeare & Company where legends such as Hemingway, James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw and Gertrude Stein went to get their "English fix" for books. (I managed to get a little "fix" myself with a new book of poetry.) The lovely sales clerk gave me the superb recommendation of Cafe Panis where I had my lunch of kir royal au champagne Montgivroux and soupe a l'oignoin gratinee (champagne with raspberry liquer and french onion soup) while being attended to by very handsome and gracious waiters ☺.

A little shopping peppered the morning in the Latin Quarter and a visit to St. Severin Chapel. Later I took my favorite bus (#69) to Pere Lachaise cemetery where I meandered through the ancient tombstones and visited the likes of Collette and Jim Morrison. While I did search for my families' surnames, I had no success. This still has not dampened my assurance that I am indeed part French!

My handy bus then dropped me back by the Louvre where I considered trying my luck again with Venus, but opted instead to visit the amazing Monet water lilies at Musee L'Orangerie. Both before and after the Musee included a stroll through the wonderful Tuilleries gardens.

Leaving the gardens, I walked up the Right Bank toward the Avenue du Champs-Elysees. The best part of this walk was the beautiful sunset over the Seine. I found the Avenue to be much like any major city complete with McDonald's, the Gap and cell phone stores. The prize at the end, however, was the Arc de Triomphe bathed in evening light.

I am not sure if more posts will come directly from Paris, but I know that many more will follow about it. I have only begun to scratch the surface of this amazing gift of a week!! And I know that it has been "absorbed in through the pores" as Kate claimed it must be. Merci!!

A bientot!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

in memory of allyson

"I am a tear of the sun." --Lawrence Ferlinghetti from the poem, "Autobiography"

While traveling this week, I learned that a young friend & coworker of mine died suddenly due to complications with a brain aneurysm. It is so hard to understand when anyone dies, but especially those who seem to go "too soon." Allyson Thrift would have turned 34 years old tomorrow. Today I dedicated my journey and adventures to her. It was a day filled with tears and delight. I hope she would have liked it. These are for you, Ally.

stained glass at notre dame

saint joan d'arc

the center candle was lit for allyson at notre dame (next to joan d'arc)

silhouette at pere lachaise

sunset over the seine

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

paris musing #5...don't make the louvre gods angry or...

...how the Venus de Milo got revenge.

It was Monday morning and most museums in town were closed except for the Louvre. It would be crowded, but Tess and I had our plan. We called it “the bullet approach.” We had mapped out the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. We would arrive early on our direct bus route (after, of course, stopping off at Jean Millet for croissants and café au lait). Our museum passes in hand, we would “shoot” in and out and save the rest for another time.

We were excited, giddy even, like two kids who were about to do something naughty. Everything was going according to plan. There was a line by the pyramid for ticket purchases, but the guard pointed to our special entrance…no lines…no waiting. Perfect. We were in! We picked up our museum guide (just in case) and headed up the stairs. Before we could even prepare ourselves, there she was…Venus de Milo…in all her glory.

I reached in my bag for my camera, hit the power button and it was at that exact moment that Venus decided to get her revenge for even considering “the bullet approach”. Like a slow motion film clip, the camera started to slip through my fingers. I reached too late and heard the crash of metal against granite. Not a pretty sound. Quelle horreur!! The camera hit the hard floor just as the lens was opening and just like that (in the blink of an eye; the slip of a hand) my photo taking adventure had come to an end.

It was a sad, sad moment. Frustrating. Maddening. An attempt to dampen my sense of humor, mais non (but no). With Tess’ handy camera in tow, we completed our “bullet” tour (even adding Winged Victory) although the timing was slowed down a bit due to much pushing of buttons and fiddling with lens to see if we could get the camera to work again.

"What next?" you might ask. “ From where have all the photos continued to come?” Well, the ones you see here were taken with Tess’ camera. We spent the rest of our morning in search of 1) a camera repair shop and/or 2) a camera store. It definitely led us to parts of Paris we had not intended to visit and we met several helpful people along the way who we would not have met otherwise. We kept reminding each other that every day is perfect in it’s own way!!!

Repairs for my simple camera would take 3 or 4 WEEKS! However, the earnest young saleswoman who spoke no English would not give up and called in 'back up' to help with my camera issues. Between the four of us (Tess, one sort of English-speaking salesgirl, one French-speaking and me), I am now the proud owner of the new generation of my broken camera. It uses the same battery and digital cartridge thus allowing me to miss only the shots in the museum (which Tess covered) and the ones along the way during our camera hunt through Paris.

Crazy stuff. Again feeling blessed in so many funny little ways. I am glad to share this with you and very glad to be able to continue photographing this delightful journey!!! One word of warning, however...if you ever decide the visit the Louvre consider carefully how you will approach it. Arms or no, Venus has amazing power!!!

And, just one more thing…Mona Lisa did NOT disappoint, but that’s another story ☺!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

why paris?...musing #4

Tess asked me yesterday why it is that I was so drawn to Paris to come on this grand adventure. Initially I said, "I don't know." We then talked about how if we do have "other lives" then I think at some point in time I was French. I have thought that in some way most of my life. As a little girl (and now a grown up one), I discovered that my family has very little knowledge of our ancestry or heritage. And so I have often felt quite assured (by myself at least) that someone in my long history came from France.

When I started "creating" a couple of years ago in the "Awakening the Creative Spirit" program we were asked to write about our muse and this is the poem that popped out of me. Hmmmm...

My inner poet is French. Tipped beret and Mona Lisa smile. Her voice rings out with playful laughter, her arms wide open, leaping into darkness and light. She is beautiful and earnest. Seductive and serious. She was born on the wings of angels and birthed out of pain and suffering. I recognize her in the first morning light by the gentle shores of the sea. She is bathed in God’s fragrance and surrounded by belief. What does this inner poet know for sure? She is light. She is dark. Complete and unfinished. A creature of God. A glorious paradox. This poet lives hidden from sight. Covered in blue scarves and white. Peeking through the window and knocking on the door. She lives at home inviting others to come and sit by her fire. Her imagination is infinite. She dreams of knowing and being known, of embracing and being embraced. She desires community, fellowship, peace and solitude. She must speak of everything. The resonant and the dissonant. The beauty and the depravity. The joy and the sorrow. The fullness of life and the darkness of death. She sits on the sidewalks of Life, holding a thin cigarette and dreaming her dreams. Her voice speaks in a beautiful accent. Tipped beret and all-knowing smile. My inner poet is a romantic. She is French.

Last night as I was trying to wind down after another fabulous day, I considered Tess' question again and thought "how could I not be drawn to Paris?" It has all of my favorite things right here (except, of course, my dear family and friends.)

The art is amazing. There is beauty everywhere you look; whether in architecture, God's greatness or "real art." Water...it flows through the city in the form of the Seine and periodically falls from the sky to wash everything clean. You can walk everywhere and even in the midst of this large international city, it feels like a neighborhood. This has become home for me in just a few days. There are great buses and who knows maybe I will revive my bus stories while here. Oh, and the food...beautiful, interesting, delicious and sometimes a little scary. I could go on and on, but I will stop with this one confirmation that I am supposed to be here. Paris is the City of Lights and for those of you who don't know it, Lucy means Light!! How perfect is that?

I just wanted to share this little morning musing with you. Once again I am waiting for Tess to arrive so we can go for our cafe au lait and croissant (more later about this fabulous little spot we have found.)

I hope you have a wonderful day today! I know I will!!! Au revoir!!

(more at lucy creates!!!)

Saturday, March 01, 2008

les deux magots--paris musings #3

"This cafe still trades on its self-styled reputation as the rendezvous of the literary and intellectual elite of the city. This derives from the patronage of Surrealist artists and young writers including Ernest Hemingway in the 1920's and 1930's, and existential philosophers and writers in the 1950's." Today they were able to add two great writers of the 21st Century to the list...guess who? drum roll please...lucy (c'est moi) and Tess!!!

Yes, it is true. The two friends who met in the blogosphere well over a year ago were united today in glorious, sunny, fabulous Paris. Hugs were exchanged amidst astonishment that we were actually in each other's presence. Waiting for a table at the very busy cafe, we commented on the amazingly chic hostess and the waiters dressed in tuxedos pouring wine and Evian for the wide array of customers. We sat inside at a great window seat with a French father, mother, daughter and little white bulldog beside us. (No poodles in sight.) It was all so Parisienne.

After lunch, we made our way to the Seine where Tess had her first look ever at the magic river. We continued our walk along the quai where we strolled next to the infamous "Left Bank booksellers." Our next stop Saint Chapelle with it's amazing stained glass windows depicting over 1100 scenes from the Bible. Breathtaking to say the least!!!

Finally we hopped on the local bus back to the rue Cler area (my home away from home) where we picked up Tess' luggage and strolled past the Eiffel tower to find her hotel in the 5th arrondissement. Making my way back, I stopped at the local pastry shop to pick up my dinner of Salmon tartine and Framboise Tartelette. Vie, c'est bon! (Life is good!!)

Time to say bon soir. Tess and I are meeting for breakfast in the morning and a visit to the Musee d'Orsay...and who knows what else? Stay tuned for more...

(be sure to check out lucy creates for pictoral updates!!!)

friday top ten--musings from paris #2

coming up the stairs from the metro to see sunshine, the seine & notre dame. breathtaking!

the sheer holiness of notre dame. i carried a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes as i wandered slowly, listened to the haunting music and offered up prayers for friends and family.

ile st. louis...all of it! the scarf shop. the sandwich. lunch by the seine.

watching the eiffel tower "dance" in the clear night sky. (once it is fully lit, there is a light show every few moments. spectacular! i had to pinch myself to know i was really there. (actually i have been doing that ever since i got here. i will be black & blue for sure!)

the magical spinning of the carousels. i know there is a horse with my name on it waiting to meet me ☺.

being mistake twice in one evening as a French person ☺.

English conversation on the train with the two college girls from america.

sweet white wine and fromage quiche in the afternoon.

listening to the soundtrack of 'once' while viewing pictures of the day.

my cozy little apartment and the wonderful comfy bed next to the red cyclamen i purchased at my neighborhood flower market!