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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Lourdes: Just the Beginning.


The next couple of posts are going to be part of my Lourdes series, devoted to sharing my experiences from France. Bear with me. Hopefully I’ll have some wisdom to share.

Edith Piaf fills my ears as the flight attendant makes a quick announcement regarding our descent into Paris. My heart flutters as I think about all the things I hope to do in “La Ville-Lumière”, the city of lights.

As a little girl I used to watch Gigi, with Leslie Caron, Maurice Chevalier, and Louis Jourdan, on repeat, in hopes that I would someday be able to switch places with Gigi. More than anything, I wanted Louis Jourdan’s character to fall in love with me, to take me to Maxim’s and to the sea. To fall so desperately in love with me that he would be willing to give up his beloved freedom as a single man simply to live a life of joy with me.

Paris means romance, means love, means…everything I’ve ever childishly daydreamed of.

But on this day, Paris is nothing more than a connecting flight.

The smell of the Charles de Gaulle Airport is something like a mixture of body odor, cologne, roses and wine. It permeates the air, and while you run to ensure you’ll make your next flight, the magic of France seems to halt time. Each scent, each image, each face are suddenly etched into your memory as if you spent an hour gazing at each. Dior, Gucci, Armani…stores that we could only find on Fifth Avenue line this Paris airport like fast-food restaurants line ours. It’s hard not to walk about, mouth agape, as you sense the culture difference, but my mind was buzzing with something outside of this obvious decadence.

If this was the secular world of France, what was the world I was about to enter going to be like?

One plane and bus ride later, I am standing in front of the Maison St. Pierre et St. Paul, an old convent converted into simple-living rooms for volunteer’s and visitor’s that don’t have enough money to stay in a hotel. I don’t have to work to keep my eyes open, as the brisk air and beautiful scenery hold my eyes captive. My body, on the other hand, thinks it’s time to sleep. The time difference weighs on me, but the clock says it’s time for lunch and with no time to spare we drop off our luggage and begin making our way across town to the cafeteria where we’ll be eating all our meals for the duration of our stay.

As we begin our first walk through the bishop’s property, I can’t help but be in awe of all that has passed in just twenty-four hours. It feels as though weeks have passed since I said farewell to my parents, and yet I have only really met my destination in this moment.

Inhaling the cool, mountain air…I smile to myself.

The adventure may have only just begun, but my heart is completely at peace.

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