I’ve been re-reading a favorite book of mine over the past few months: ‘The Art of Pilgrimage’ by Phil Cousineau. I’ve underlined and folded down so many corners on so many pages; the phrase that resonates with me most deeply is, ‘take your soul for a stroll’.
What does it feel and look like for me to shift my traveling from one of ‘tourist’ to ‘pilgrim’? To take my soul for a stroll and pay attention to its movements, inner voices and longings? How do I intentionally participate in this even in the midst of a very busy and bustling city like Paris; while traveling alone and with others? To travel, as Durrell writes as, “A great traveler…is a kind of introspective; as she covers the ground outwardly, so she advances fresh interpretations of herself inwardly.”
This summer I had the wonderful opportunity of visiting Paris not once, but twice. Circumstances arose for me to wander, walk, treat my soul to beautiful art, wine and dine, for three days in July with my husband; then in early September I was able to return again, this time with my daughters, husband and dear friends from England. Our friends youngest daughter was celebrating her 15th birthday and it was her first visit to Paris. It was so much fun to participate in and observe her as we lead her about the city: from the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame, from the Batobus on the Seine to the bustling activity on Rue du Rivoli, from the Louvre to a celebratory dinner at Bistrot d’Henri, from breakfasts of croissants, pain au chocolat and apple tarts, to a wander about the Musee Rodin (interior and gardens) and then down into the bustling and sometimes rather warm metro. As I paid attention to my soul I was struck again by how much joy and beauty I notice in this city, and the delight of being there with friends. It was a gift.
I’m writing this post as a reminder to myself. To remember these wonderful gifts of pilgrimage, to share memories through photos that words can’t quite describe, and to honor my heart that desires to show others this city.
Even though I’ve been able to visit Paris many times since my early 20’s I continue to discover new and delightful spots. These last two times found me coming upon a free art exhibit in the Luxembourg Gardens, participating in a cooking class with LaCuisuineParis.com and participating in a bike tour out to Giverny with Fat Tire Bike Tours. I’m going to write some other posts about those experiences and include some photos and information should any of you desire to visit when you happen to next be in Paris.