An Agnostic in Paris - My Family Travels
The Cool, Cool Louvre

March 23, 2011

I’m not sure how to cleverly start this, so I just have to begin with the basic fact that I am currently on a speed train going through the French countryside. I’ve just spent two wonderful and wonderfully exhausting days in Paris, and after a night stop in Perpignan, we will make our way to Barcelona. And I am at one of the most happiest moments of my life. though my dead iPod is leaving me tragically deprived of a soundtrack, it would only enhance the sweetness of this place. The countryside, the villages, and the churches; Europe’s mountain green.

And did those feet become swollen and bruised from the cobblestones? Oh yes. And they made fists of my toes on my first plane ride. It’s all perfect. And it all felt like a dream until the second day. I realized the presence of the people, I think. There’s a feeling of eternity to the city. At Notre Dame was when it was most affecting. Our tour came through during a service, and while the empty building alone would have awed me, the atmosphere was so strong I could have wept. Maybe it was the incense, or the chorus, or the various people kneeling at candles in prayer. It wasn’t one thing, but all. I don’t like to romanticize it so drastically, but this is pretty sincere. It took me a while to figure it out, because I’m not very religious, but I would be if I attended that church. Just for the sake of being apart of something so lasting. Above the morality, above the superstition, above the creeds and the wars and the coming messiahs, religion is something so genuinely human. At the base it is faith in the unknown, and solidarity that has lasted longer than the oldest crypts and tombs, and something so unbelievably hopeless and hopeful at the same time. I may not believe in the existence of an ethereal higher being, but I believe in people, don’t I? At the best of times, yes. A tout a l’heure.

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