Morning in Paris, the city awakes to the bells of Notre Dame…
A few Easters ago I was lucky enough to spend Easter in beautiful Paris! We started our morning with croissants and coffee (and hot chocolate and tea!) outside of beautiful Notre Dame, next to the famous buttresses that hold the beautiful Cathedral in place.
Since we were going to the second service of the day, we ate and drank with ease, enjoying family time as we were apart during my semester abroad. After feeling satisfied and awake, we made our way into the cathedral with little line or minimal hassle.
Once inside, the spring light poured through the beautiful and intricately designed stained glass windows, high above the masses.
Chandeliers once lit by candlelit adorned the private hallways of God’s chamber, perfectly outlining the nave. Yet, where we sat, it was dark, and with hundreds around us, looking like little ants under the high ceilings, I felt very, very small.
And to hear the organ play and echo throughout the gothic walls was absolutely spectacular! You could feel the Catholic Church ruling society, you could feel the majesty, the power, and almost the fearing God ring throughout the church.
To the big bells as loud as the thunder
To the little bells soft as a psalm
Though the French was much over my head, I enjoyed trying to sing along to the French psalms, and hearing those around me sing in one of the most romantic languages in the world. As an American tourist, I felt like an observer of French culture, rather than a Christian attending Easter mass.
You could tell that many Parisian families regularly attend the church each weekend, saying hello to their friends and knowing their way around, while many others spent their big Christian holidays taking a family trip to the world-famous church as these parents worked extra hard to shepherd their children as to not embarrass the family.
And some say the soul of the city is
The toll of the bells
The bells of Notre Dame
After mass, we took the time to walk around those dimly lit corridors. We walked where Parisians walked for 300 years, where the poor and the wealthy walked. Where people gathered for weddings, communions, funerals, and for everyday Sunday mass.
We walked silently, taking our place with the tourists on the perimeter of the cathedral, to take a view behind the alter and into some of the more private apse and ambulatory, where quiet and private prayers were welcome.
Here, in the back of the cathedral, everything felt small and cozy- a completely different ambience than the rest of the church. Here, you could heal and pray in private.
And so, as we took one last look down the aisle, we left the cathedral, stepped back into the 21st century and the light of a spring day. The clouds had mostly parted and the sun shone on the now snaking line of Parisians and tourists waiting to get their spot in the Cathedral.
We peered back over our shoulders to view the beautiful cathedral from the exterior- its dark stained glass windows hiding the majesty that was once inside. We viewed the intricate details of saints on the arches in the doorways to God, and the gargoyles guarding the tower and watching over the city.
The arches, the pillars- imagine how long it took to construct this masterpiece! And just like that, we went on our way, awoken by the bells of Notre Dame…
Have you been able to attend a religious ceremony abroad?