Monday, July 23, 2012

Faux Pas and Notre Dame

Thursday 2pm
I’m finally healthy. Thankfully. 100% recovered from my night of puking and all.

Friday 3pm
So I managed to commit one of the few international faux pas. I discussed religion during a meal. And probably seemed like a judgmental bitch in the process. Daniel’s father was asking me about the election and said something about Romney being a Mormon. I’ve got no probably with that but then he said something about Mormons being Christian and I started shaking my head. My opinionated self couldn’t keep quiet. I’ve done my research. Christians believe that faith in Christ alone will save you and bring you to heaven. Mormons have a different take on things. If I convert to Mormonism two minutes before I die and truly believe, my faith means nothing because I haven’t had the chance to prove it with works. If I convert to Christianity and then die two minutes later, so long as I truly believed I am saved. That’s a big difference and cannot be chalked up as a difference of opinion. That along with many other things means that Mormons are not Christians. I have no problem with them as people but they are not Christians. Open mouth. Insert foot. Anybody know a good surgeon? I’m going to need help getting my foot back out. He changed the subject and THEN I realized my faux pas. Dear Brain, Why can’t you work faster than my mouth sometimes? A cycle of guilt could easily start now. :/ There’s nothing I can do about what happened but I can pray that G-d will give me tact in the future and that He will watch over the words of my tongue.
Last night I spent a few hours in bed reading before I fell asleep. First my “fun” book and then Confessions of a Prayer Slacker. It’s so easy to read and it’s easy to convict me. I’m planning to make a morning prayer time. To wake up, make some tea, and sit down with G-d before my day starts. If you had an appointment with the President, you’d be certain to meet it every morning as long as he wanted to meet with you. Well, the Ruler of all wants to meet with you every morning. He wants to hear everything that’s on your mind and He wants to help you through your day. Why should I miss a single moment that I could have with Him?
This morning we went out for breakfast for croissants and coffee at a café called Les Impressionistes. Simple but delicious. The croissants here really are better than in America or in Germany. I really have to do laundry but there’s something wrong with the machine. I’m not sure what or why but I hope it gets fixed soon or I’ll be wearing dirty clothes tomorrow. Speaking of tomorrow, my week has changed while we’re here in France. I work 10-2 Monday through Saturday and have Sunday free. It’s 24 hours a week (instead of the 30 I should be working) and I still have all my evenings and a day off.
I think I’m going to go hop in the pool and swim some laps, wake myself up a bit. Then I’m going to do some research on Paris in the kitchen while drinking some tea and eating some Jaffa cakes I believe. Dinner here is always so late that if I don’t have a snack I’m totally starving.

Sunday before bed
Oh my goodness. I am tired. I am sore. My stomach hurts a little (wine and ice cream don’t go well together). I am amazed by the majesty of my G-d. Today was my day off so I slept in a little and had some museli for breakfast (which by the way I love-one of my recent discoveries). When I went over to the house to get my laundry from yesterday, Helga pulled out the waffle maker and David cooked some more waffles so I could have fresh waffles (which are apparently a Sunday tradition). They were good and I had a cup of strong coffee but I wasn’t terribly hungry considering the museli. After hanging around for a bit and getting the directions to the RER station from Kathrin, I headed off towards the city with the plan to see Notre Dame and Saint-Chappelle. But being Vickey… I took the RER to Chatlet Les Halles and transferred to a different line to St Michel-Notre Dame. And when I left, I headed the wrong way. So I turned around and found Notre Dame. It was stunning. I honestly recognized the shape of it from a Hunchback of Notre Dame game I played with my little brother when we were small. A big square front with two rectangles for towers. And then the back view with the flying buttresses I recognized from London studies. I waited in the line (which was less than 5 minutes) and first went around the perimeter in the sanctuary to view the little chapels and the stained glass. I was quickly overwhelmed by G-d though. I had prayed before I went in that He might meet me there. I know it can be hard in a cathedral to feel G-d because it’s not intimate but it is beautiful and I knew He could do it if I asked. After I walked around the perimeter, I sat down in the aisles (they aren’t pews but rather chairs) and just gave in to the overwhelming feeling. I cried, I prayed, I wrote in the notebook I had with me. (The contents of that follow in Italics here.)

I’m sitting in Notre Dame right now completely overwhelmed by the majesty and glory of G-d. When they built cathedrals like this, they wanted to convey G-d’s power and how lofty He is. This is not an intimate place. It is enormous and vast and makes me feel so small. And that was the point. I prayed before I came in for 30 seconds asking G-d to meet me here. I know it’s more of a tourist location these days but it is still a church of G-d and He can still use it. And He has overwhelmed me with how big He is. How small I am. And yet, He loves me. My G-d is so big yet He loves me. He makes time for me every moment. He is always with me. So why can’t I always grasp that? My Saviour loves me. Speck of dust, ball of clay, me.  I pray that I might not forget this lesson or this feeling. The hole I feel in my heart is because I have let days go by, weeks and even months, without having a heart to heart with my Father, my Saviour. When I call Him my L-rd, I want to remember what that means. That I am bending to His will but that I trust Him to do the right thing for me that He has plans. My G-d has plans for me. He has great plans for me. I am going to impact people and I don’t know how but He does. He is going to use me for His good if only I will step out of the way and let Him. My G-d is so big, so strong, and so mighty. There’s nothing my G-d cannot do. My G-d has used a tourist day in Paris, a childish desire to see Notre Dame into a religious experience complete with crying and promises to wake up to meet Him every day for a week if He’ll promise to help my alertness level and sleep schedule. And I know my G-d will. He can do anything if only I have faith. And if He can organize the construction of this magnificent cathedral and use it to touch me, of course He can wake me up. Father G-d, I need to feel Your love. I need to feel Your reassurance and I need You to fill the void I’ve let grow over my romantic desires. Wonderful Saviour, fill me with You and let me remember that You have shown me a future with a husband and children. My desires for family and motherhood are not contrary to Yours. It’s my timing that is. Father, remind me to wait on You. Make me yearn for You and only You, L-rd. I dare not ask for patience. You know what I need, my Father. You have not only great plans for me but perfect ones. If I had followed my plans and my heart, I would be married to the wrong man, may have children, and may not have a degree. I don’t know if I would end up in the ministry You want for me. And since I believe it has to do with my heartbreak over the loss of my virginity, I doubt it. But L-rd, I realize now that just because I lost my virginity does not mean my purity is forever lost as well. Help me recover my purity, L-rd. Change my heart. Restore my conscience. Saviour, as I leave this place, come with me. Don’t let this experience stay here. 

My plan next was to head to Saint Chappelle but I wandered my way there and suddenly came across the bridge I see all over Pinterest with the locks on them. People attach a lock with their name and their lover’s then throw the key in the river to symbolize that their love will never end. Just as they can never get the lock off, they can never end their love. I didn’t think I’d actually find it but I stumbled upon it! (Future reference, it’s behind Notre Dame.) Eventually, I found Shakespeare and Company while I was wandering and trying to find food. My guidebook had mentioned it so I thought I might as well stop in. It’s a cramped little shop with lots of books. I wasn’t sure what to look for so I browsed and then bought Love in the time of Cholera. I think it’s the book that Kate Beckinsale’s character sells with her name and number in in the movie Serendipity. As I was about the pay, the woman in front of me stumbled forward behind the counter. I thought she was just completely out of it socially and was getting in the cashier’s personal space. Then he said, “Are you okay?” And I realized she was having some sort of an episode. I thought she was seizing but I’m not sure anymore what happened. An ambulance was called and I was of um no help at all. I wish there was something I could do but there really wasn’t. She was sitting at a table outside the shop when I left. During my wandering after that, I tried to find food. My anxiety combined with my complete lack of French made me skip over restaurant after restaurant. I also didn’t have much money because I bought too many tickets for the RER. (I assumed that they could be used both there AND back but no dice. They’re only from Croissy TO Paris. Oh well. I can use them later.) I ended up at Starbucks and used the wifi to text Eric. Amazingly, my stop in there coincided with his break during work. Because the wifi here is only in a small area of the main house, I haven’t been texting much. I’m hoping to Skype my gramma Wednesday at her request and to talk to Eric either via video chat or I’ll use my laptop to call his cell. After Starbucks, I headed to Sainte Chappelle which was of course closed (it was 6:15). I ended up wandering and found Avenue Victoria where I got someone to take a picture of me with the street sign. I walked towards the Champs des Elysses and ended up in the Concorde near the Louvre. I didn’t go INTO the Louvre but I did see lots of people lounging about on grass in the “Jardin”s. It’s a very French thing to lay about in the grass in any park area. I looked very French today in black pants, a black V-neck, and my flats with my favorite bracelet and a new blue scarf to match. I was even asked SEVERAL times if I spoke French or if I knew where something was. Once I actually managed to help. (He asked for McDonald’s. I had just passed it.) So by the time I got to the end of the Concorde, I was tired and VERY thirsty. I headed towards Champs des Elysses but was waylaid by the set up from the Tour de France which went through Paris today (no I didn’t see anyone). FINALLY, I got there and went to Haagen Dazs for ice cream and a glass of water. I drank the water as if I had never seen anything so precious and then stopped alongside the Metro station to eat my cone. I made small talk with a guy who I THOUGHT I had heard speaking English (he did speak some but not much). Then, my tired ass got on the Metro, rode two stops, changed to the RER, and came home. My feet still hurt but I’ve had a half a glass of wine, a piece of pizza, and a hot bath. I’ve washed my dishes and my hair and it’s 12:30am. That all combines to mean I am exhausted and going to sleep. Alarm goes off in 8 hours.


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