Saturday, October 31, 2009
I was just enjoying looking again at the pictures that I took in Paris. This was one of the charming surprises that I came across one day. It has no significance except that it made me happy and still gives me pleasure and reminds me that the beauty of the city of Paris itself was one of the unexpected treats of my trip.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
"I saw a huge number of people, impossible for anyone to count, from every nation, race, tribe, and language." This verse is an attempt by the author of the Book of Revelation (7:9) to describe the number of saints in heaven.
Early Christians found it impossible to count all those who had been killed because they believed in Jesus. Some martyrs, of course, were outstanding in their witness and were named as such, but Christians wanted also to honor all of those who were not famous, so they celebrated in Rome a catch-all feast of All Martyrs on May 13.
The pre-Christian Irish remembered their dead at the end of October, the end of their year. After becoming Christians they continued to honor their dead at the same time of year. When the Church decided that we wanted a catch-all day to celebrate, not only martyrs, but all those non-famous persons who had died and were with God in heaven, it was the Irish time of year that won out.
So November 1 became the Feast of All Saints. It is a time for us to remember and honor all those who have died but never made a name for themselves for being holy, people like our friends and family members, and the "huge number of people, impossible to count, from every nation, race, tribe, and language."
Saturday, October 24, 2009
I took this picture one afternoon this week. I have always liked the autumn leaves contrasted with green. Many branches now are bare and some whole trees. After four warm sunny days strong winds and heavy rain brought down a lot more leaves.
This Sunday's Gospel has me thinking about how much we need the eyes of faith to see God in ourselves, in others, and in the things around us, like autumn leaves and gray days.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
who are you, little i
(five or six years old)
peering from some high
window;at the gold
of november sunset
(and feeling:that if day
has to become night
this is a beautiful way)
e e cummings
One of my favorite poems of one of my favorite poets whose birthday is today.
Monday, October 12, 2009
This is not the chapel. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures in the chapel. The chapel is in Vence, a town in the hills behind Nice in the south of France. It was the main reason that I went to the south of France on my trip.
I took this picture in the historic part of Vence which dates from the 15th century. Its ancient town wall separates it from the rest of Vence. Many of the streets are as narrow as the one in the picture. There are also small open squares that add to the charm of this "old village." I was so enchanted by it that I spent a couple of hours here before going to the chapel.
Between 1947 and 1951 Henri Matisse, in his eighties and nearly blind, designed and decorated the chapel as a gift to the convent of Dominican sisters who had nursed him in an illness. Since it was another ecstatic experience that I had with stained glass, let me try to describe it. The entire south wall is long, horizontal waves of yellow, green and blue stained glass. The west wall uses the same colors vertically to hint at a "tree of life." The altar is made of a kind of pockmarked stone that resembles bread. On the other walls are simple line drawings of the stations of the cross, Madonna and Child, and St. Dominic. I felt enveloped by Divine Brilliance.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
This is a demonstration to encourage One World. One of the bridges across the Seine in Paris was blocked off by a long line of massage therapists offering free 10 minutes massages. What a delightful way to push for peace in the world!
I found the French people charming. Everyone I dealt with during my two week stay was thoughtful and eager to help and very pleasant. Lots of smiles. Twice people came out of their place of business onto the sidewalk to help me with directions. I also appreciate the French support for beauty and art. Is there another city in the world with as many museums as Paris?
I enjoy hearing the language spoken, even though I can't catch much of the meaning. One silly thing on my part is that I couldn't get over hearing little children speaking French! I could seldom make myself understood in French. My accent must be awful thick. Almost always there was someone near who could help me by speaking some English. One World.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
I was awakened at 7:05 this morning by this peach/rose glow in my bedroom. I grabbed a warm bathrobe and hurried out into the 39 degree morning with no shoes. I looked east into what seemed almost a forest fire of brilliant reds shining through some pines. It was, however, this muted northern sky reflecting in the Lake that caught my eye.
I often think about finding God in such beauties of nature and art, but this morning's experience got me thinking that it was more like God finding me and showing me his glory.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
The beautiful Seine River that flows through the heart of Paris. I took this picture from the Left Bank (south side.) This is only one of the many graceful bridges that span the river. The Seine is the main reason that I found Paris itself so beautiful.
I stayed just two blocks south of the River and found myself attracted to it constantly. This I had not expected. My focus for the trip was the beauty that human beings had created in stained glass and art. The Seine and Paris itself turned out to be an important part of that Beauty that lifted me out of myself into the Divine.
Friday, October 2, 2009
I'm back from a wonderful time in France. The main focus of my trip was to experience the beauty of great stained glass windows and of great paintings, and I was not disappointed.
The rich color and brilliance of the recently cleaned windows in Chartres cathedral lifted me out of myself. In Paris La Chapelle whose walls are almost entirely stained glass, the rose windows in Notre Dame Cathedral, and the more modern stained glass of Sacre-Coeur were truly Divine. I could not get good pictures of stained glass windows with my camera. This picture of a stained glass window in Notre Dame is the best I could do.
Of all the paintings that I saw the great standouts were Monet's "Water Lilies." Two large oval shaped rooms with skylights each display four of Monet's enormous works, floor to ceiling, door to door. I didn't know where to look, whether to sit or stand, encircled by the shimmering colors of purple and blue and pink and green. An ecstatic experience.
I was struck by the thought that these artists who may or may not have believed in God had created works that caught me up into Divine Beauty.