Sunday, August 19, 2007

sightseeing

Since we're leaving tomorrow, we made the obligatory pilgrimage to the Louvre. The grande gallerie was jammed with the usual Sunday morning crowds, so we tried to figure out the type of art the fewest people would be interested in and ended up looking at late medieval sculpture from Northern Europe. There were a few strikingly pale and elongated alabaster carvings from England and a smirking angel from the Netherlands, but one of the most impressive pieces was a German sculpture of Mary Magdelene. The statue was just a little larger than life-size and showed the saint clothed in only her golden and elaborately-carved hair, which fell loosely to the middle of her thighs. Looking at the modelling of the soft-seeming curves and the downcast eyes, it was hard to imagine that the sculpture did much to inspire religious contemplation. In fact, as we stared at it, an Italian girl posed in front of it as her boyfriend took her picture, her blonde hair falling over her shoulders, her hands steepled in front of her, in a self-conscious echo of the statue's pose.

Late in the afternoon, I walked over to Notre Dame and, ignoring the various thorny religious issues that it posed, lit a pair of candles for the twins. Since it's my understanding that the Pope has now done away with the idea that unbaptized babies are eternally consigned to limbo, if I were a Catholic, my babies could, at least theoretically, be in heaven. There was a service going on and the sweet scent of incense hung in the air. The priest began talking about peace and I pushed my way through the people holding cameras over their heads and ended up outside, in the square in front of the cathedral. I walked back to the apartment, keeping close to the river, trying to memorize the green-grey color of the water, occasionally glancing at the boats filled with tourists as they made their way upstream, heedless of the current.

15 comments:

Eva said...

I'm glad you lit them some candles. Not because I'm at all religious, but because you seem happy you did.

When I went to the Louvre, I found it funny how there's basically no French Impressionists to be found, and seeing the Mona Lisa was a more fascinating anthropological than artistic experience, what with all the jostling multiculturalism of the other patrons.

Have a safe trip back!

missedconceptions said...

If you have any time left, the gardens at the Rodin Museum are spectacular. The museum is great, too, but the gardens are one of my favorite spots in Paris.

I am not Catholic, but sometimes I do appreciate all of the ceremony and ritual.

slouching mom said...

Say goodbye to Paris for me.

Safe travels home, OK?

Julia said...

Safe travels. It sounds like the trip had done you good.
The statue is something, and yes-- I am not seeing it as particularly piety-inspiring.

painted maypole said...

"trying to memorize the green-grey color of the water" i felt this same sort of hopefull memorizing while I was in England... this "I want to remember all the details"

Prayers for safe travels...

Monica said...

Beautiful Niobe, just beautiful.

Christine said...

that last picture? lovely and perfect.

i'm glad those candles were there for you and the babies.

Sticky Bun said...

I love that picture of the Seine. Beautiful.

Wishing you safe travels home.

Caro said...

Safe trip home.

The Oneliner (Christina) said...

i've so enjoyed your posts from the city of lights. i wish you didn't have to leave.
i'm glad that one religion, at least, allowed a sense of peace if only for a second.
i hope you escaped a little.
safe home.

Magpie said...

Your photo will help you memorize that grey green color - lovely.

I, an avowed atheist, once stepped into a Catholic church in the midst of an IVF cycle, to sniff the dust and incense, and hope that it would help. I understand that lighting of candles for the twins. I might have too.

Bon said...

i have loved catching up with Paris through your eyes, Niobe...i like the way you see, the things you choose.

and the image of you lighting candles in Notre Dame...i don't have words to name it, but it blew me away, all those intersections.

travel safe home.

S. said...

I so appreciate seeing through your eyes--travel does sharpen the vision! I hope you can bring your traveling eyes back with you.

ms. G said...

I am glad you lit the candles. I am neither religious nor Catholic, but I have personally found that small gesture very soothing.

I hope you have a safe trip home.

meg said...

I'm glad you lit the candles too. I have a really hard time doing anything like that, for my twins--but I'd like to think that if I had been there, I could have done the same thing. For me, being able to do anything to remember them, is huge. Have a safe trip back. I will miss your wonderful photos and descriptions of all you have seen/experienced.