Father Tom Lumpkin is a tireless advocate for the poor in Detroit. He is a quiet community hero, and was a perfect choice for our Untours Giveaway. Read about his good works here. He and his sister traveled to Paris with us this year on a free Untour, our small thank you for a man who has helped so many in his community. Here is the second half of his Paris journal. Click here to read the first installment.
What follows is the second half of a petit journal of my Paris trip. A five-star thanks to the Untours folks for making it possible. Words cannot express my appreciation! Another five stars to Ann, my “big sister,” for nominating me to receive it, then becoming the perfect travel companion. This was the vacation of a lifetime! Merci beaucoup!
Tuesday, May 10th
Yesterday we did a walking tour of the historic Latin Quarter. Today, visited the Musee d’Orsay (Impressionists) and Sainte Chapelle with its marvelous stained glass windows.
Over here, much more than back home, I get a sense of being a very small part of a very large enterprise. Simply seeing churches and stained glass and statuary from the 13th century, walking in and around buildings and streets built hundreds of years ago, there’s a felt sense of being rooted. You’re not just here all alone; you’re from and even within something bigger than yourself, much of which is quite wonderful. This is one of the things I most like about the Catholic faith: a sense of being part of a vast communion of saints.
Wednesday, May 11th
On a rainy day, visited the Louvre and Orangerie Museums. The Orangerie houses Monet’s Nympheas (Water Lilies), a two-room, near wall-to-wall marvel, inspired by the pond at his home in Giverny. The murals are all water, with some lily pads, trees with hanging leafy branches, and some reeds. Not a human or animal in the entire work. Monet did it at the end of his life, intending it to be a refuge and refreshment of spirit for people too caught up in their everyday busy, industrial, city lives. It is indeed.
(Check out the Untours blog post about this Parisian Secret here!)
Thursday, May 12th
A cloudy day that eventually brought showers. Before they came, we went to the ritzy part of Paris: the area around the Church of the Madeleine and Place de la Concorde. Afterwards we spent some time in the Museum of Modern Art, ending with a snack in its courtyard, the Eiffel Tower dramatically in our view. Spent the afternoon resting and reading in our apartment. So nice to have days free of responsibilities, in Ann’s company, and enjoying this interesting and lovely city! After being here a little more than a week, I think I’m already getting used to it (at least a little)!
Friday, May 13th
Ann and I had a very enjoyable lunch with Rick Berry, Dick and Jean’s son, who’s lived in Paris since his mid-twenties. Afterwards visited the Pompidou Centre, a contemporary Paris attraction.
Paris is a particularly cosmopolitan city, and I experience this each day, taking time to sit quietly in our apartment that overlooks a busy street (Rue de Reaumur). People of noticeably diverse ethnic background pass by, on their way to somewhere, usually in a hurry. So much diversity, so much uniqueness, yet joined (with me) in a common humanity. No wonder our faith celebrates God as a diversity within a unity (3 Persons – 1 God). Creation reflects and expresses the Creator.
Saturday, May 14th
Today Ann and I went to Giverny, a small town one-and-a-half hours northwest of Paris. Monet lived here in his latter years. He’s quoted as saying, “I’m a painter and I’m a gardener; other than that, I’m good for nothing.” But what gardens! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more flourishing, abundant, and beautiful layout of flowers, water, lily pads, reeds, bushes. and trees. The gardens themselves are a work of art. Unforgettable!
Sunday, May 15th
Pentecost Sunday. Without any intentional planning on my part, these days have become a wonderful celebration of the feast. We are daily walking among people from every race and nation. (The Chinese are especially present.) We are daily hearing different tongues. We are daily seeing God’s Spirit manifesting itself through the beauty and variety of nature and human effort. There are different workings but the same Spirit who produces all of them in everyone. (1 Corinthians, 12:6)
In the afternoon we did another Paris walking tour, this time in the old Marais district. An historically Jewish neighborhood, it is still so. Walked by a synagogue and saw bearded men in black hats on the streets. Very, very crowded – apparently because its shops are open on Sundays (they’re closed on Saturdays). Very old, narrow streets. Out of the way, almost hidden, small gardens appearing seemingly out of nowhere. Fascinating. Ended up at Place des Vosges, Paris’ oldest public park, filled with families enjoying the weekend.
Monday, May 16th
In the a.m. went by myself to the Left Bank area of my student days over 50 years ago. Other than the familiar names of streets, I didn’t recognize it at all. It has become decidedly upscale.
In the afternoon Ann and I did another Paris walking tour – the Left Bank, with a focus on the writers Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Gertrude Stein. Afterwards, we walked in the beautiful Luxembourg Gardens. Lots of children floating sailboats in the big pond at the center. Then had a great dinner in a corner restaurant.
Tuesday, May 17th
Last full day here. Walked along the Seine, did some shopping, had an outdoor lunch (weather was warm and sunny) at the Tea Caddy, a place Ann knew from her earlier visits. A good end to a great experience!