Years ago I dreamed of wandering the streets, neighborhoods, museums, and restaurants of Paris with a group of women. I wasn’t sure how it was going to happen, nor the logistics of facilitating such a venture, but I longed for it to unfold. Little did I know that another friend of mine, Kayce Hughlett, was imagining and dreaming the same thing. A year ago she asked, “Are we going to do this or what?” (or at least something like that). My heart responded with a resounding YES, followed by internal questions and mild freak out fears: Who would come? Would anybody want to do an Urban Paris Pilgrimage: Where soul greets sole?
All those questions were answered, negotiated, navigated and an amazing group of women bravely followed us to Paris where we took our souls for strolls, wandered and meandered down streets, lingered in museums, savored food in restaurants, paused and laughed during picnics, rode bikes through the countryside to Monet’s Garden and home in Giverny, danced and laughed in the metro, broke umbrellas (due to deluges of rain), witnessed the sun set through the center of the Arc de Triomphe, ascended the Eiffel Tower at night, and the magic continued on.
Who knew that the heavy dark skies laden with rain on our first evening together would cease their downpour just as we entered the road outside the Louvre in our 2CV Citroen vehicles? The drivers were able to roll back the tops of the cars and we witnessed the magic of the city as the night darkened and the sun set.
Two of our fellow pilgrims encountered significant commotion and upset as their flights were shifted and changed and they ‘magically’ appeared just as we were beginning our introductions the first evening. On our first morning together we strolled leisurely along the Seine to the Tuileries and entered the L’Orangerie with hardly a soul in line. The magic of Monet’s water lily paintings captured my heart again and I felt as if I could fall into the very paintings. While in the museum, the skies let loose their ‘angels tears’ and the sun welcomed us as we exited.
So many other wonderful experiences unfurled around our feet as we sought to pay attention, listen to our own desires and longings, and embrace giving up maps, wrestling with feeling ‘lost’. We tried new routes, ocassionally walked round and round in circles, sat in cafes, looked up at the magnificent architecture and beauty, paused in ‘pocket parks’, and simply enjoyed being happy, content, and present. What a gift.
My heart is in love with Paris and I can hardly wait for another Urban Paris Pilgrimage: Where Soul Greets Sole, to unfold. I am encouraged by Phil Cousineau and his words from, ‘The Art of Pilgrimage’: “How will you remember to remember when you return home?… The challenge is to learn how to carry over the quality of the journey into your everyday life.” Part of my remembering is by writing here, sharing photos and stories with friends who ‘get me’ and through continued reading, practicing of French, wandering and getting lost in my home city and paying attention to the daily magic that unfolds as I stroll.