The third post in the Paris series, written by Judy Brown:
Visiting the churches of Paris is one of my favorite things to do.
On a trip this October with my two good friends, Lisa and Barbara, I took advantage of a sunny day and went to Sacre-Coeur Basilica ( Basilica of the Sacred Heart) on the hill in Paris called Montmartre.
After the long trek uphill, we happily found the crowds to be manageable, and there was no wait to go inside.
I tend to get dramatic in churches, and this one caused me to gasp. It is gorgeous. The mosaic in the apse is one of the largest in the world and is breathtaking.
Timing was perfect. The three of us sat in the pews and listened to the priests chant and the nuns play their table harps (or dulcimers) and sing. The sacred sounds echoed and filled me with peace.
What brings me joy is the escape from the hub bub of the outside world, the serenity and beauty the setting provides, and the cross section of humanity that is present.
I always like to people watch but really find it soothing just to sit and contemplate my life, my issues, and pray for my family and friends in need.
Upon leaving, and just outside the large wooden carved doors of the church, sat a middle aged woman begging for change.
I can still see her face in my mind. There was desperation. There was sadness. There was depth in her eyes. There was hope that she would receive assistance from the travelers and church goers. She was beautiful despite being ragged.
Does she have a family to support? Is she ill or in pain? Was she cold? What is she thinking about? Does she worry about menopause?
Life and its woes are relative. This sweet lady reminded me that I need to keep my seemingly small complaints about life in perspective. Menopausal dry skin, nights sweats, and mood swings are merely inconveniences that I could certainly bare.
Does she know that she taught me more and gave me more than the Euros I gave her? This trip to Sacre Coeur was a gentle reminder of all I am grateful for.
The beauty of the church, the beauty in her eyes were a gift to me. I continue to pray for her.