Wednesday, October 19, 2011

From Paris to a Deck Called "Paris"

We spent the last two weeks of September in Paris--two magical, glorious weeks in a city that, much to our surprise, totally captured us. And then we came home.

I returned with the worst cold I had had in years, one of those stay in bed kind of colds. We returned to a dead car battery and a lost internet connection and changes at work. The morning after we returned, I fell and bruised/cracked/broke a rib. After walking at least 10 miles every day on cobblestones much of the time and always while gawking at the beauty around me, never tripping or stumbling, I returned to familiar territory and I fell.

We also returned to warm, glowing fall days, similar to what we experienced in Paris, and I decided, because the energy and the physical stamina were severely limited, I would listen to my body and rest. If I could no longer sit for long unhassled periods of time at a Paris cafe, savoring croissants and chocolat chaud, I could retreat to the deck off our dining room. The deck we call "Paris."

I've called the deck "Paris," since we first moved in the house. Looking out over the rooftops of our neighborhood, I imagined myself standing on a French balcony, greeting the morning. Never mind that I had never been to Paris and had no idea what I would see from a French window and now that I have been to Paris, I realize the view from my deck bears no resemblance to the view from our Paris apartment.
Never mind, I have a great imagination.

Our summer was full with many fast turn arounds between events, along with big chunks of time devoted to Paris preparations. Plus, prolonged hot weather prohibited sitting on the deck. Now was the perfect time. I read. I dozed. I gazed. I remembered. Yes, I did what had to be done--laundry, bills, phone calls, emails--but each day included Paris time. Each day more leaves fell and I was further away from our time in Paris,  but I allowed Paris to sink into my being. I let Paris roll around in me. I let myself uncover Paris within me.

While in Paris we discussed with our travel companions what we have taken home from our various travels. Not just treasured objects like the large pottery pitcher perfect for sunflowers we bought in Florence, but lifestyle or attitude changes. Not an easy question, but a good one to ponder on the Paris deck.

I loved the pace I encountered in Paris.--the acceptability of and encouragement to sit in a cafe for as long as you want to observe and marvel at the fashion parade, to reflect on the sights, big and small. To recall what You've learned and what questions you have, such as "What is the criteria for being buried at Pere La Chaise?" and "Is there a law against carrying 'to go' coffee while walking?" To sip a glass of wine or two at lunch. To talk or not. To savor a pastry, slowly, really tasting it. To breathe and feel gratitude for all of life.

To experience what Richard Rohr calls, "deep time" --past, present and future all at once.

I want to live that way. I want those parts of Paris to live on in me.

Phil Cousineau in his book The Art of Pilgrimage lists five excellent practices for travellers on sacred journeys.
Practice the arts of attention and listening.
Practice renewing yourself every day.
Practice meandering toward the center of every place.
Practice the ritual of reading sacred texts.
Practice gratitude and praise-singing.

This is what I want to bring to my deck called "Paris." And to all of my life.

Stay tuned for more thoughts about Paris.


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