Posts Tagged With: church

Paris: Day Two

After a much needed long nights sleep, best friend and I were determined to make up for our first day in Paris with a fabulous second one. We had breakfast at the hostel, (we stayed at the Trendy Hostel which has breakfast included, a big plus. It’s a bit out of the way, but right next to the metro and a nice relaxing place to be at the en of the day) and then set out to visit the Opera, home of the Paris Opera, and also the real life inspiration for one of my favorite books, The a Phantom of the Opera, which was alter made into several movies, stage plays, and then the widely popular musical. I can’t truly describe the beauty of the any of the astounding architecture of Paris, but the opera house with its golden, winged, statues, and intricate carvings, archways, and columns is really sight to behold and I hope someday I et the chance to sit inside this gorgeous building and see an opera.

After a quick money exchange we made our way to Norte Dame where we attended Monday afternoon mass which was, although in French, a language I really know hardly any of, still incredibly moving. I am a believer and getting to go to a service in one of the most beautiful and historic churches in the world was something beyond words. To see the beauty of both the outside and inside of Notre Dame, and the way that people were able to express their devotion and love of God through their talents of architecture, sculpture, painting, and glass work was so moving. I will admit, however, that it is a little bit bizarre to be attending church with hundreds of tourists standing on the edges taking pictures of it like it’s some kind of performance. But j am glad that the church is a working cathedral and not just a tourist trap like so many other grand churches around the world.

After mass we went in search for food but made a quick stop a the Shakespeare and Company book store because it’s impossible for two book lovers not to find themselves drawn in by the piles and piles of books held within that shop. I could have spent all day looking at books and would have surely spent more money than I could afford on books had I not remembered that I basically have no more room for anything in my bags.

Our search for substinance led us to what is my favorite place in Paris, if not the world that I’ve explored this far, Montmartre. Montmartre is actually the name of the hill that this district lies at the foot of, but as an artist myself and a lover of art and literature, Montmartre is a dream come true. Unfortunately due to the influx of tourists to the area (sorry Paris) the artists can no longer afford to live in Montmartre for the most part which is a huge pity because that’s what makes it so wonderful. It was the home of such artists as Pablo Picasso and Monet, and was frequented by writers such as Hemingway and Langston Hughs.

We found a bakery, bought a delicious lunch of sandwiches, croissants, and diet coke, and found out way up a hill to a tree covered courtyard and a (albeit very wet) bench to eat on. This bench was right outside the building where Monet and Picasso both lived and worked in their early days in Paris. If I had to pinpoint the exact moment I fell in love with Paris it was right there. Right in front of the former lodgings of artistic greatness, under trees with orange and yellow leaves falling at our feet, eating the best croissant I have ever had, I fell in love with Paris.

After resting for a while we started our climb to the cathedral Montmartre, and the best view of the city from anywhere in my opinion. We got to the top, took a deep breathe and just stood there in awe of the beauty of our view. That lasted approximately two minutes before we realized that Best Friend’s phone had been stolen when she accidentally put in her back pocket after checking directions. There were a few moments of panic and frustration, and then we realized that A) her phone was covered for theft so she could get a new one next week, and B) there was nothing we could do about it right then so we continued on our way more or less unaffected by the unfortunate theft.

After that it had started to rain even harder and my shoes were soaked through, so we decided to go back to the hostel and relax for a bit before meeting our friends again for dinner that night.

Around 6:30 it had stopped raining so we made our way back into the city for dinner and we met our friends at a small crepe shop and I had the best tomato, lettuce, and feta crepe, and then an hour later an even better nutella and banana crepe. It was a good food day over all.

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Sitges, Land of Golden Mermaids and Empty Beaches

In between our morning at the Picasso museum and the Gothic Quarter, (Which you can read about HERE) we took a train ride up to Sitges Spain to spend the rainy afternoon on the beaches there.

Sitges is my favorite place that I’ve been so far in Spain. The first time I went we got down to the beach and it was practically empty. There were maybe five people scattered up and down the sand. It was a warm day and the water was pleasant. It was so still you float on the top with no worry of having waves crashed on top of you. It was the perfect beach, a nice change from the drunk college tourist filled beaches of Barcelona. Though they were equally beautiful, there is just something about sitting on a beach with no one but your family and just soaking it all in.

The second time I went was last week with Best Friend. We had gotten to Barcelona and realized that everything was expensive and there wasn’t much to do, so we decided we would go see Picasso, and then hop the next train to Sitges. unfortunately it was rainy that day, but that didn’t deter us in the least. we figured if we can’t swim we can at least go to the beach and see the water. So we get to the main station in Barcelona, Sants and we scoured the train time tables until we finally found one going to Sitges. We got downstairs (I should mention that we used one T-ten for each of us on this trip and it only ran out on our last ride to the airport so buy one, it’s so much cheaper) and we wait for the train and we get on.

The ride was pretty uneventful and about thirty minutes long so we just chatted and looked at the scenery which, as in most places around the city, was mostly farm land. But then, suddenly, we catch a glimpse of the ocean and it is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I don’t know quite why this stormy ocean landscape took our breath away like it did, but truly it was a sight to see.

We get off the train at Sitges and to be honest I have no idea where we are. When I cam last we came by bus and were let up closer to the center of the city where as the train is more on the seaside end of things. I am glad that that is where we ended up though because being in tis part of town just solidified my love for Sitges.

As you walk through the streets every alleyway is like the gothic quarter just old and beautiful. Most of the shops are little organic cafes or hipster coffee shops, and everything has an air of laid back contentedness. All you need to do to get to the beach is follow the signs and walk downhill and eventually you’ll see a little blue through the buildings and trees ahead of you.

When we got down to the beach there were maybe three people standing on it. The storm had made the water rough and choppy so no one was in it but a few children played along the edge. we turned to our left and there is this giant church on a hill overlooking the ocean so we think, why not? We walk over a set of stairs that lead to a platform that has a sculpture of a mermaid and a great view of the coastline. The waves are so rough that they are actually breaking onto the platform where we are standing, it was gorgeous. We walked up another set of stars and found ourselves face to face with this old seaside church, which turns out to be Church of Sant Bartomeu i Santa Tecla, better known as “La Punta” (according to wikitravel). In any event it was beautiful and the vie can’t be beat.

We walked a little further down more little streets until we found ourselves back on the beach. We took pictures, and stood in the waves, and finally we just sat down right in the sand and watched the waves crash upon the shore. It wasn’t super eventful day, but it was a beautiful on and I think Best Friend would agree that when we’re together and seeing new things, it doesn’t really matter if we’re partying all night long, or just sitting on a cold beach. It’s all about the adventures that we get to have together, and about getting to look at each other’s kids some day and say “This one time when me and your mom were in Spain…”

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Down by the River

In Torrelles de Foix, Spain, there isn’t a lot to do. It is a very small town with just a couple of tiny markets and a pharmacy. And while I quite enjoy this quite little town, sometimes it can get a little monotonous.

So yesterday my two little brothers and I decided to go to the store so they guy buy snacks. We get there and , of course they are still closed for siesta so we decided to walk around a bit. We went down a small alley and back up, still closed. So we walked up past the store, up a hill we had never been before. As we were walking one of my brothers noticed a sign that was pointing to the right and decided that we should follow it, so we did. We walked down a path past a field with one old shack in the middle, and past a few scattered houses, up into the woods on the back side of town. When we got there we found a little stream that had beautiful, cold, clear water, and huge trees that were thick enough to climb in. We also found crawdads in the water, so we spent the afternoon climbing trees and exploring paths and catching crawdads. And even though we all got cut up on thorn bushes and came home wet and dirty, it was one of the best afternoons I have spent since we got here. On our way back we took a back road and it led past all these farms and vineyards that line the edge of town. It was so beautiful and green, I can’t believe we never explored that way before.

The thing that really got to me about the afternoon is that I forgot how good it feels to just be a kid. As I’m coming up on my 21 birthday I feel less and less like it’s ok for me to just be goofy and climb a tree. It was nice to regain some of that freedom.

A week from Friday I leave to spend a few days in Barcelona and Paris with my best friend so I try to keep my blog updated on how it all goes. It’s my first time to Paris and I’m super excited. We have plans to see museums and churches and all the beautiful touristy things that I’m not ashamed of. Although mostly I’m just excited to go to the Van Gough and Seurat exhibits which I have already informed my traveling companion will probably illicit tears from me. Art makes me emotional…sue me.

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Planes, Trains, and Standing on my Own Two Feet

I got on the plane in Denver, Colorado at 4:30PM, got off in Reykjavik, Iceland At 6:00AM, back on at 6:30, and then off the plane in Frankfurt, Germany at 1pm. We gathered our things and went down down down into the train station beneath the airport, where the only relief from the heat is the trains rushing by.

After being in a hot, crowded train for about fifteen minutes, we made it to the square where we were meeting our contact. We walk up from the station into a huge outdoor shopping center complete with McDonald’s and Starbucks. We got the boys a soda which they were very much confused over (they use less sugar in Germany), and then we went our separate ways. My God family to their apartment, and me to my room.

Another train later I found myself walking up four flights (not including the landing) and confronted with a smiling German face. He explained that I was to live in the attic room, which is a nice little room with a comfy bed, three tables, a dresser, and a water heater for tea and coffee. There is no air conditioning, but I assured him that my time in Sutton Hall had prepared me for that.

Back on the street minutes later I was led to a coffee shop called Awake where I was to meet my God family again later. My guide said goodbye to me then and I was left alone in the city of Frankfurt.

As I walked back to my room I begin to get a little nervous. I have never lived on my own before. I’ve never had to pay for rent, or buy groceries, or navigate a foreign city, let alone one where I don’t speak the predominant language. But I got back fine and I dragged my sleep deprived body (I hadn’t slept on either plane) up the four flights. After the day of traveling I was very excited to be able to crawl into the shower and just be clean. After which I proceeded to take a half an hour nap.

I awoke, got ready, walked back down to the cafe and met my God father who told me, quite understandably, that the boys had passed out and were happily sleeping as we spoke. I then spent my evening sitting outside and talking to new friends.

I met a girl named Hannah who is part of a church group that sometimes does church services at the coffee shop. She told us about her upcoming trip to Africa to do some outreach, and about how her church has been moving in Germany. Hannah told us that at a certain point her church realized that people weren’t coming to church buildings anymore (sound familiar?) she said that they realized they couldn’t just have a church and expected people to show up, they had to go where the people were. So they started having small services all over in different towns and cities at coffee shops, hospitals, movie theaters, anywhere they could one a venue and people who needed to hear about God. They opened up the floor to hear from the attendees what they wanted to see done in the world. If someone had a heart for prostitues, they set up an outreach group, if someone wanted to reach the elderly, they set up a coffee outreach. And not only dos the members of the church start mobilizing, they opened it up to non believers who wanted to work on a social project. In this way they have been able to reach not only those they are serving, but those they are serving with. They even opened their mission trips up to secular participants which I think is revolutionary in our age of religious exclusion. It was amazing to hear how God has been moving in Getmany and I heard a lot of things I can’t wait to take back to America and maybe shake things up a little. Hannah told the story of the 101 year old woman who had come to Christ last month. Who says it’s ever too late to except the love and mercy of Jesus Christ?

Mercifully, after our chat, I was finally able to go to the little discount store across from my building, buy some water and some dehydrated noodles, and crawl into bed at about 9:30pm.

As I got ready for bed I started to realize that maybe this is a great chance for me. Maybe this is my chance to live alone and support myself and learn to be a functioning human being. If everyday German woman can wake up, get on a train to work, go shopping, walk all these place alone, then surely I can handle it too. I’m excited to find my own capabilities through this journey. I didn’t come on this trip as a journey of self discovery for me, but that seems like it’s going to happen whether I want it to or not.

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“Break my heart for What Breaks Yours…”

I cannot sleep tonight. I went to bed fully intending to get a good nights rest and wake up bright and early tomorrow morning. But as I lay there sleep evaded me. So I arose and turned on the television in hopes that it would put me to sleep. Three hours and one whole season of a show later, here I am.

I watch this silly show on Hulu called Rev. It is an odd comedy about a Vicar of the Church of England who runs a failing church in the inner city. We follow his slightly ridiculous life, and listen to his prayers to God. He struggles with his faith, and he gets into trouble, and he struggles everyday. While there are parts of the show that are obviously silly and parts that are probably a bit irreverent, I enjoy it because it shows the struggle Christians are all afraid to admit they have. It shows a Vicar who is supposed to be a shining example of God, who struggles in his faith, just like the rest of us. Tonight I watched the entire last season of it in my restlessness.

In the last episode of the series Pastor Adam has found himself without a church, and subsequently, without a purpose. He goes into a deep depression which in itself was very hard to watch since the show has always been rather light hearted. But there was a scene that just absolutely smacked me upside the head. While usually the viewer is privy to the private prayers of Adam, in this particular scene, we become privy to his wife’s prayers. She prays for her husband and for guidance, then we hear the prayers of the Arch Deacon who is so often the antagonist to Adam as he asks God why people don’t seem to understand or like him very much, we hear the prayers of Adam’s second at the church as he tries to reassure himself it wasn’t his fault the church failed, and we hear the prayers of a Collin the homeless church goer who prays for his family, wherever they might be, Adam and his wife, and for the woman he once loved providing that she isn’t already gone. As I watched this I began to cry. Now me crying at a television show or a movie or a book or a…well you get the point, is not a new concept. I cry all the time, I’ve already confessed that. But this was different. I wasn’t just crying because the characters I love were hurting, I was crying because the weight of their prayers was so unbearable.

There is a common saying amongst those who believe in God; “Break my heart for what breaks Yours..” The idea of this phrase, or prayer, is that we ask God to show us what breaks His heart, make us aware of it, and break ours also so that we may start to fix the brokenness of the world. While I think this is an admirable prayer, and while I pray quite often myself, I’m not sure a lot of us fully understand what we are asking.

I am often overwhelmed by my sadness or frustration at the tragedy of our world., but for some reason tonight the weight of the prayers of four fictional people just crushed me. We ask God to let us see with His eyes, to break our hearts, but if the sadness that God feels over our suffering is even close to what I felt tonight (and I imagine it must be so much worse) I don’t know that we could handle it if indeed God ever really decided to reach down and say “Here, feel what I feel, see what I see.” There is a great scene in the movie Bruce Almighty where Bruce receives a desperate prayer from the woman he loves as she cries out to God in her sadness and pain. Bruce is overwhelmed by the pain the person he loves the most in the world is feeling and is desperate to fix it anyway he can. If one human being can be so sad over the suffering of one other human being that they love, how much more must God feel the suffering of millions of His children.

I can’t be completely sure what God is speaking to me tonight, but then again when can we ever be completely sure of anything when it comes to God? What I do know is that as I prepare to leave for Europe in the next two weeks I should always remember that I am there to be used by God for His purpose and to see His children as He sees them, and love them as He loves them, which is no easy feat. I think tonight He showed me that inside we are all hurting and praying for something. We all have a prayer. And that I should remember that, and let my heart break for His children, and let it motivate me in my journey, but don’t let it cripple me in the purpose He has sent me.

So I guess what I’m saying is that I’m glad God gives us compassion, and I’m glad He gives us insight into what needs our time and love, but I am also glad that He  helps us carry the burden, because we simply couldn’t do it alone. You wanna know how I know God is divine and that we can never be like Him? Because I could never be in that much pain all the time. I would shut down and stop caring. But God is always there, day and night, all the time to guide us and love us and help us carry our burdens. He never stops caring.

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