My Parisian Journey: I Have Seen…. Musée du Louvre

Originally posted on My French Quest:

Winged Victory of Samothrace, 2014

Winged Victory of Samothrace, 2014

Musée du Louvre

 I have seen galleries filled with matted and marbled beauty created by the best of men and the divine;

the attempt to express reality in ways words can never communicate.

Subtle hues evoke emotions and feelings of joy, mystery, sorrow, horror, frailty;

not unlike the images of the Greatest Creator speaking His masterpiece into existence.

Clouet's Francois I Louvre

Clouet’s Francois I
Louvre

La Joconde (Mona Lisa) by Leonardo da Vinci

I have seen the masses feast their eyes on a simple, smiling young maiden as she represents the goal of a pilgrimage through marble corridors and staircases;

surrounded by the masters of the ages, neglected, ignored in the mad rush to Da Vinci’s maiden.

What is it about her smile that draws the young, the old, the educated and the naïve to her side?

Da Vinci's La Jaconde

Da Vinci’s La Jaconde

[In September, David and…

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My Parisian Journey: I have seen…Shakespeare and Company

Originally posted on My French Quest:

In September, David and I returned to Paris for a week of vacation. For this particular trip, we agreed to see Paris in a new way.  As the English novelist, Lawrence Durrell said, one must “travel with the eyes of the spirit wide open, sit quietly and observe and smell and listen for the spirit of the place which is the most important determinant in culture…one should tune in, idly, but with real inward attention”. Therefore, in the style of Hemingway’s vignettes  (1922 Paris), we have shared our reflections and “quiet, inward” observations of this enigmatic city.

Shakespeare and Company

Shakespeare and Company

Shakespeare and Company

I have seen a gathering place

where English is the common language;

A haven for pedantic readers and aspiring writers

Encased among literary classics, hard bound, yellowed,

marked by fingerprints and coffee stains of the great writers of the past

and the patrons, passing through.

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My Parisian Journey: I have seen….La Tour d’Eiffel

Originally posted on My French Quest:

. La Tour d’Eiffel

. La Tour d’Eiffel

. La Tour d’Eiffel

I have seen a view of life and history from the realm of those with wings

standing atop a spire of iron

reaching into the heavens.

In the light of day, its presence defines and identifies the jewel of Europe.

At night, its lights transform and ignites love in the hearts of

young and old.

Sadly in the midst of its grandeur, the pleasure can be lost in the twisting, crowded lines of tourists and

seekers trapped, pushing and shoving, snapping “selfies” in a pursuit of what can only be found by giving

away and turning loose.

 

. La Tour d’Eiffel

. La Tour d’Eiffel

[In September, David and I returned to Paris for a week of vacation. For this particular trip, we agreed to see Paris in a new way.  As the English novelist, Lawrence Durrell said, one must “travel with the eyes of…

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Decisions, Decisions

Do you ever have a hard time making a decision? How long does it take you in the morning to pick out what clothes you are going to wear? I heard of a man who wanted to simplify his life, so he decided to only wear black suits, with a starched white dress shirt, complimented by a solid black tie, set off by as you might expect polished black dress shoes and black socks. I guess you could say he liked his decisions to be black and white!

Of course, most decisions in life even the simple ones force us to wrestle with various shades of gray. Very few decisions in life are cut and dry, most confront you with too many choices and options. This reality gives credence to Matz’s Maxium which simply states:

“A conclusion is the place you get tired of thinking.”

For many people one of the issues that compound their inability to make decisions, especially the significant ones in life resides in the stark reality they don’t know what they want or where they are going in life.

Lewis Carroll captured so vividly this dilemma in his classic story “Alice in Wonderland.”  You may remember the pivotal point in the story when Alice bumps into the Cheshire Cats at a fork in the road and inquires: “Would you please tell me which way I should go from here?”

The inquisitive cat asked: “That depends a great deal on where you want to get to…”

Surprisingly Alice replied: “I don’t much care…”

To which the wise cat answered: “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

Far too many people wander aimlessly through life not knowing where they are going, and end up right where they intended to go…they end up nowhere.

Steven Covey, in his classic leadership book Seven Habits for Highly Effective People noted that effective people learn early on the importance of “beginning with the end in mind.”

The call of Jesus on his earliest followers revolved around an invitation to join him on the great adventure of life. He simply said, “Come, follow me….” The simple truth remains, Jesus still calls us to follow him through all the twists and turns of life.

Paul described this reality to his friends in Philippi this way: “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12b-13 ESV)

Paul realized God himself enables us to make wise choices at the crossroads of our lives by working in us “to will (to decide) and to work (to do) for his good pleasure.” Simply put, if you want to know what God wants you to do…listen close to the whisper of the Holy Spirit…and step out in faith.

Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit movement, taught his early disciples to nurture what he called a “holy indifference” to decisions. He challenged them to lay aside their own personal agendas, desires, and dreams, and to yield completely to the voice of God resonating deep in their hearts and souls.

Ignatius captured well the invitation of Jesus when he called out: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.”

If you stand at a crossroads in your journey today, give up control for once, and choose to follow Jesus wherever He leads, and let the adventure of faith begin…I promise you will enjoy the journey, besides you will be traveling in great company!

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My Parisian Journey: I have seen… Le Notre Dame de Paris

David Lowrie:

A Journey shared

Originally posted on My French Quest:

 

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France

Notre Dame Cathedral

I have seen a place of worship saved from the ravages of ignorance rebellion, arrogant and wicked in the face of the Crucified One.

A cathedral which took generation after generation of craftsmen to erect in its grandeur

which was nearly destroyed by one lost generation

blinded by bitter rejection of the shadows of religion against the tears of a Heavenly Father.

As the tourists parade around the sacred “thin place” in the heart of Paris,

a handful of the faithful seek to connect with a force greater and more pure than one can conceive or imagine.

A love stretched out from station to station overlooked or misunderstood

by a world loved, but lost by rejecting faith and mystery which

strangely brings all things into focus.

(In September, David and I returned to Paris for a week of vacation.  In the…

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The Child in Me

The sentry at the door must have fallen asleep, because on Monday morning I turned around and realized our church facilities had been invaded by a band of little human beings with small hands, small feet, short arms, big smiles, quick tears, hungry minds and open hearts. At first the sensation overwhelmed your senses especially your hearing, but once you realized the little ones meant you no harm their joy was contagious.

If you have not read between the lines yet, I am describing a week of Vacation Bible School at your local neighborhood church. For decades VBS has breathed life into churches old and young, big and small, because children have a God-given ability to bring back wonder and mystery into old dusty places in our hearts and minds. That is why I believe Jesus loved to hang out with children, and children always seemed to be nearby offering their sack lunches, crawling up in his arms, or responding to his healing touch.

One day Jesus’ band of followers quizzed him with what they considered a deep theological question. Sensing a bit of their own superiority and begging for a complement from their Master they asked:

“Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

I can see them sitting back waiting for the applause of heaven because of their courageous wisdom in choosing to follow Jesus at all cost, Jesus surprised them. To their shock and amazement instead of calling one of their number to his side, he motioned for a child—a young boy—to stand sheepishly in their midst.

Looking deep into their hearts and souls Jesus uttered the most stunning words saying: “Truly I say to you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never the Kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3 NIV)

Don’t miss the obvious point, Jesus warned them about their assumptions of greatness when they were in danger of missing heaven altogether. True greatness starts by simply getting into the Kingdom first, and entrance starts with taking on the trust and innocent devotion of children.

This week I have enjoyed a crash course in the joys and wonders of the Kingdom of God in the faces of children. Children, big and small, share an incredible openness to the Spirit of God. They embrace wonder and mystery with innocent abandonment.

Let me share a couple of glimpses of this abandonment to God. Marsha, who led them in worship which consisted in a wonderful blend of aerobics, joy, singing and rhythmic choreography, shared with me that her heart swelled watching the children sing with all their hearts and souls. There was no looking around to see who was watching, they sang, moved, and experienced worship in the moment.

Fast forward, I am walking by a pew, and a little hand reaches out and grabs mine. I look down into bright eyes framed by little glasses. As she peered into my heart, she smiled and whispered, “I want to be baptized” with the innocent boldness of a child. I wish my “wanting” was so pure.

A frazzled teacher shared with me about her struggle to tame a herd of little boys. I reminded her little boys need a firm loving hand to guide them. You see children learn best with love wrapped in firm boundaries. In fact we all do. Jesus sees the child in all of us— so smile, sing, dance, and believe your way into His Kingdom.

 

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A Shoe Story: Buckner’s International Shoes for Orphan Souls

You would think the life of a running shoe would be boring and I must confess I have a few friends who have spent their lifetime stuffed away in the back of a closet under a pile of other shoes, but boy do I have a story to tell. I started out like most tennis shoes in a factory in China molded and sewn together by the nimble fingers of a Chinese craftsman who turns out dozens and dozens just like me day after day. Once the last stitch was in place and my shoe laces traced my smile and I found myself nestled in a box, I was off on a great adventure…at least I hoped so.

Like most running shoes I found myself soon aboard ship heading for the good old USA. I am a size 6 so I hoped and prayed I would find myself in New York City or Los Angeles on the growing foot of an aspiring athlete. I could envision endless games of soccer in lush grass or running through Central Park nestled under the skyscrapers of Manhattan.

Of course I had little to say about that, my main objective was to survive the nearly month at sea trying to avoid being seasick or lost overboard. Once we arrived in port just outside of Houston, Texas, I realized quickly I was going to need to get used to the heat and humidity. I had heard horror stories about the impact of heat and sweat on socks and shoes.

I waited in a warehouse for what seem like eternity until I was loaded on a truck and shipped to the border of Texas and Mexico to a city called El Paso. Being from China I knew little about living on the border, but when I was placed on the shelf for display I smiled at every little boy who passed by hoping he would choose me to be his own, and that we could share the adventure together.

My wait was longer than I expected until a big red sale sticker was placed on my box. I must confess I was a bit embarrassed to consider myself a “sale item.” To make matters worse, instead of a young boy trying me on and picking me out. I found myself dropped in a shopping cart by an old man. He had to be in his 50’s. I knew immediately I was not his size, and besides he must have bought at least five or six pairs of shoes.

The sales clerk rang me up. Soon I was loaded me in a big bag. On the drive I hoped the old man had a grandson, but sadly when we arrived in the house there were no children there, just a couple of dogs who looked longingly at me.

The old man ripped me out of the comfort of my box. Tied my laces together, and put me back into the sales bag. I waited in limbo for a couple of days along with several other pairs of shoes, and we were all confused at the prospects of our future.

On Sunday, the old man loaded us and took us to church of all places. I heard about being “saved” but this was a bit strange for a shoe from China. To our surprise, the old man placed us in a corral at the end of a great hall under a big sign reading “Shoes for Orphan Souls.” I thought to myself, what in the world does that mean and where in the world am I going.

A few days later I was lovingly placed in a box with dozens and dozens of other shoes and we took off by truck to Dallas. I arrived at a warehouse with Buckner’s on the outside. From there I took my first flight. Yes, I flew by jet to Africa landing in Nairobi. We were driven to an orphanage filled with little bare-foot boys and girls. A volunteer took me out of the box and knelt down in front of a little six year boy who had just slipped on a new pair of socks. Then with a big smile on my face, the volunteer slipped me onto his little foot. I was the first pair of shoes he had ever worn. We ran, jumped, and danced together. We went everywhere together. We went to school, and to church. I need not worry about being lost in a closet. We are inseparable.

Who would have known a running shoe could change someone’s life! Don’t forget to bring tennis shoes for our “Shoes for Orphan Souls” drive. Boys and girls around the world are counting on us.

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