Not quite two months ago, Karl and I were strolling home from my workplace, when a scruffy-looking figure approached us. Expecting the usual request for a few centimes, I quietly prepared myself to give the same regretful mantra I have to dole out to about 4 out of 5 people per day here in Paris: silver and gold have I none. To our great surprise, he asked us hurriedly if we had a camera. (Abbey's indignant interior voice: "What? Do I look like a tourist to you, or what?") He looked crestfallen as we responded in the negative. C'est dommage, he said. Too bad you don't, because there is a certain rare way that the light is going down over the Seine right now that creates a beautiful image. He insisted we head towards the river at once, with all of the verve and vigour of an aesthetic proselyte - GO, now! Be baptized in its glorious light. This singular man was determined to bring us to beauty.
(But away with him to the madhouse! He's got holes in his pants.)
These days, there are no more tawny leaves clinging to the chestnut trees, nor variegated oranges, greens, and browns to hide the sky. When we venture out to a jardin or a parc, we see (and hear) the bare branches clapping into the naked sky. That is, when we look up. For myself, this is usually when I'm running a very...boring stretch of a path for the umpteenth time. Seeing some sky (even a grey one) brings a little relief to my eyes that are tired of looking at the earth. It reminds me of the Harry Connick song, With imagination (I'll get there):
"When weary is your world
Go and spin another
When weary is your world
There's heaven to discover."
Ah, idealism from top to bottom in one, delicious stanza. And boy, do I eat it up. But there is an element of very real (and realistic realism, for all you realists out there). That is, this world - as full of savory Seine sunsets as it is - can become quite wearying. Full of difficulty, tribulation, boredom, pain. It is not enough to keep your chin up - even we seemingly tireless optimists peter out after a while. But it is looking up to the One whose beauty is always fresh and satisfying that keeps us running strong. Like the Psalmist wrote:
My voice You shall hear in the morning, O LORD;
In the morning I will direct it to You,
And I will look up. (Psalm 5:3)