Monday, 11 April 2011

Notre Dame de Paris


One of the weekly highlights of my Paris Winters is the Messe Grégorienne on sundays at 10 am in the Notre Dame de Paris. Identifying myself (if I have to) as a "Catholic Agnostic", I dont go there for the Holy Communion, but mainly for the music and the athmosphere, and the incense. Fantomas once answered the rhetorical question "what did Religion ever bring to humanity" with: "Music! they brought us pretty damn marvellous music!". And WOW, are those  gregorian chants,  delivered during that mass, havenly! (yes I know, "heavenly"...baboom).

I usually try to get a place right opposite of what must be the most photographed church window in the world. When one is asked during meditation classes to "go to a place you love", I usually go there, in my mind, on a sunny late afternoon, when the dustflecks dancing on the rainbow coloured light beams, really are angels dancing on a pin-heads.

This year again, I took a 1000 + 1 pictures of that window, and all turned out badly. So, as they say in TV-cooking:" here is one I prepared earlier for you"  (last year):



Yesterday, I observed a Nun, dressed in yesteryear's habit, who sat down and remained seated, nearly defiantly.  I thought, if anyone had the right of refusal to get up at each shake of the incense burner and down on the knees at each incantation of the Allmighty, it surely is an old nun, who is more or less the wife of Jesus and the daughter-in-law of God, quasi  family. She seemed  tired, and hurting, and rheumatic, and disappointed in life, and fed up.

However, after they did that post-Vatican II thing I loathe, (I do not like commandeered instant mass intimacy) where you shake hands with strangers, she suddenly came to life and stood up, on somewhat shakey stumps, but assertively. I saw her shake the hand of at least 5 or 6 people to my zero.  Perhaps this was the first physical contact she had had in a loooong time.

What would a nun’s life be like…?

I was brought up to consider them as something outer-wordly, and respect, even fear them as such. I had some bad experience with one nun who  frightened me as a child; now I would probably dismiss her needling nastiness with a “she needs to get laid”. Poor things - I don’t think they would even manage to engage in guilt-free masturbation. Apart from having perhaps the odd  secret crush on the visiting priest, the day-to-day earthly aspect of their lives would have to be pretty grey…or vanilla-like at best.. a life of service to a God who might or might not exist (personally I subsribe to Pascal’s wager!) they must have doubts…about Him or even Her…..these sacrificial lambs, females and males.

Outside Notre Dame, on this unseasonally hot Paris  April day (25 degrees at 11 am), the Chestnut Trees were lighting their candles, nearly as I watched and clicked away on my ageing point'n'shoot camera.


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