Sunday, April 26, 2009

It's True

It's a cliché but, then, most clichés are clichés for a reason. Spring in Paris is a pretty cool thing. We get warm, sunny days - and then some showers - and a cool day here and there. But we also get that Parisian light. This photo is just one more shot from la balcone here at Chez Burnett. But the light was hitting the building across the street so I snapped a few digi's.

Most people who read this blog know that our expat experience has been a little asymmetrical. Generally speaking, it's been very positive for me while Lolly's experience has been a bit more mixed. Needless to say we are watching this closely and seeking out opportunities for expanding our circle of friends here. The other night we went to an author night at the American Library in Paris. The author was NY Times reported Sarah Lyall who recently wrote a book called "The Anglo Files" - kind of a humorous anthropological study of Brits from an American expat's POV. She was funny and interesting. The audience was, um, interesting - including at least a few people who just really wanted to be heard saying erudite things. Great fun.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Spiritual Weekend

Way back in the day, during my worship-leading days, I used to consider Holy Week the spiritual high point of the year. I used to pour boucoup time and energy into it - and I enjoyed it. When Easter rolls around now, I still think about those of you out there who do that and I have a tinge of nostaligia.

But things have changed. My spiritual perspective is very different than it was during those years. It exists but it's very different. Even though it's Easter, I didn't plan on having an exceptionally spiritual weekend. But it turned out that way.

Yesterday, Ryan invited me along to a yoga class in the Marais. I've never done yoga before but I decided to tag along. I am really glad I did - the spiritual/physical experience was incredibly satisfying. I couldn't help thinking back years ago to all those warnings I received about "opening up" to dark spiritual practices: ouija boards, yoga, meditation, etc. Meh. I will definitely go back to La Centre de Yoga du Marais.

And then today (Easter), we all decided to skip the various Messes de la Résurrection and opted instead to hit Notre Dame in the afternoon for an organ concert. That's a picture of the organ nest above along with some of the pipes. The set list:

- “Prélude et fugue en sol majeur” BWV 541 de Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
- Choral “Vater unser im Himmelreich” BWV 682 de Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
- “Joie et clarté des corps glorieux” d’Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992)
- “Récit” de Thierry ESCAICH (1965)
- “Toccata” de Jean GUILLOU (1930)

This was also an incredible spiritual experience. The organist was excellent, the sonic energy was amazing, and ... what's that other thing? There's something spiritually powerful about Notre Dame. Over recent years I've thought quite a bit about the sacred vs the secular. Like with many spiritual questions, I am happy to leave this in tension rather than force it into certainty. My two current in-tension views are: either everything is sacred or nothing is sacred except the divine. But in either case, I haven't really wanted to allow for spaces or people or oganizations to be "sacred." I've seen too much abuse in those areas.

But there's something about Notre Dame. And other old spiritual spaces with beauty and art and reminders. A friend of mine recently told me that there are, in fact, sacred spaces: some churches, stonehenges, mountaintops come to mind. I'll be reconsidering my views on this.