Tag Archives: Eiffel Tower

Angelique–God’s Messenger

She came among us.

A group of ex-pats, on assignment in Paris, we met each day at a sidewalk cafe near Montmartre to commiserate, and she came among us.

At first, we didn’t notice.

“I’ll have the foie gras,” my friend said. “I’ll have the croque-monsieur,” my other friend said.

“I’ll have the jambon-beurre,” I said. “I don’t have much time, today,” I said.

“Come on,” they said. “A French meal is a cultural experience.”.

We laughed. They said this every day. Three-hour lunches were not uncommon. I would often sit and watch the afternoon light soften into postcard Paris evenings.

“Alms,” she said, her voice soft, barely audible above the noise of traffic and street musicians.

My friends did not hear, or pretended not to hear. They continued their tales of exploits and conquests, stories not yet written, not yet published.

“Alms, she said again, closer.

I lost the train of conversation as I watched her slowly shuffle over the cobblestone, her cup held out, rattling the few coins she had collected, her cane tapping out of rhythm.

“Votre nourriture, les messieurs.” A waiter placed our food on the table and hurried away.


“Allez-vous en,” my friend said, “Go away.”

“Je ne parle pas français,” my other friend said, as if not speaking french would relieve us of guilt.

The woman looked up. She looked at me.  She was old and bent, crippled, and dirty.

“Homeless,” my friend said.

“Smelly,” my other friend said.

Our eyes met. Suddenly, I could not tell how old she was.

“What is your name?” I asked, not sure why.

“Angelique,” she said. Her eyes sparkled. “It means…God’s messenger.” Her voice was light, airy, tinged with a french accent, but with no hint of age.

“Do you have a  message for me?”

“Oui,” she said.

“What is it?” I asked, feeling this moment held deep meaning.

She kept my gaze, then her eyes traveled down over my Columbia shirt and pants and she looked at the cobblestones. It was as if the full moon had set. I could no longer see her eyes.

“Alms,” she said softly. “L’aumône pour les pauvres.”

The moment was gone.

I’m not sure what I was expecting, maybe some great insight from deity, delivered through Angelique, God’s messenger. Perhaps an answer to the perplexing question of what I should really do with my life. I don’t know. I did not receive the grand message I was hoping for.

Gypsy beggar.
Amidst the plenty of Paris, an old woman begs for alms.

The old woman held out her cup, expectantly.

I took a coin from my pocket and dropped it in. It clinked against  the other coins. She looked up again.

“Merci beaucoup,” she said. “Dieu vous protège.” Once again, her eyes were bright, blue. I nodded and she ambled away, clinking and tapping.

“I think Paris should do a better job with the homeless population,” my friend said.

“I agree,” my other friend said.

“Alms,” I heard her softly say. “L’aumône pour les pauvres.”

The Eiffel Tower
A vintage rainy day in Paris.

Paris & Children

Sao Paulo Grouping.
Work can be hard to come by in Sao Paulo. Sometimes it is easier to just hang out on the steps of the Grand Theater.

I believe we are brothers and sisters, all of us, sons and daughters of a loving Father in Heaven.  I have not yet been to every country, but, I have been to every continent. I have found that kindness, love and compassion unite us regardless of political or religious belief. We are, all of us, one family.

Arc de Triomphe
At the tip of the Champs-Élysées, Napoléon’s arch is still the grand entrance to Paris.

So, when events transpire like that which took place in Paris last week, the ground beneath our feet quakes with the shaking of our collective faith. Anger burns, like bile, in the back of our throats and we want to do something, anything to stop the violence.

I acknowledge the existence of evil. There are those who would take without giving, lie without conscience, hurt without reason, compel without care and kill without remorse. Their numbers are growing.

The events of Paris are repeated regularly in places of less visibility, and we do not notice, except when these events touch the outskirts of our neighborhoods or reach the screens of our mobile devices.

Evil thrives when our faith in God and each other is diminished. Mistrust increases when our differences, rather than our similarities are emphasized. Fear takes root when acts of violence claim the lives of our friends and our children.

Fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters give away their rights to make a difference as leaders of small and large countries tell us tales we should not believe. We do not build a better world when we ignore an approaching tsunami of self-interest.

September 11 should remind us of lessons taught, though not yet learned. The same God who made us all will not take from us the agency to choose our own paths. Our condemnation will grow from our reluctance to use this agency to bless the lives of our brothers and sisters. Evil grows in the cracks and crags of our own cowardice when we do not rise up to condemn and combat its growing influence.

Bande Village, DR Congo
The men and children of Bande Village in DR Congo.

And they suffer most who are not able to comprehend a world of cruel intent–the children. Yet, it is in the eyes of the children that I see hope. It is in the hearts of the children that I find love, and compassion, and the courage to be good.

I believe God loves us and that he has a plan for us. For some, this plan includes great deeds. For most of us, this plan includes simple acts of kindness. Wherever and whenever I travel, I see evidence of His plan in the eyes of our children.


Eiffel Tower Lights

The longest night of the year. Darkness. Winter. Rain. Snow.

I’m looking for, longing for the light.

A beacon from the City of Lights calls to me.

The Eiffel Tower, built in 1889, pierces the dark of night and illuminates the light of love, by day.

Over 1000 feet high, the Eiffel Tower stood as the tallest structure in the world for nearly 40 years. Originally criticized for his design, Gustave Eiffel created the iconic symbol of France which has become one of the most recognizable and most visited monuments in the world.

Last night, as I shop-vac’d nearly 100 gallons of rainwater from an outside window-well at my house, I thought, for just a moment, that I could see a beacon light piercing the clouds, lighting the way. I was back, back in Paris, standing under the Eiffel Tower, eating nutella crepes. Then, the rain turned to snow and a cold drip ran down my neck. I hate it when that happens.

Even on the longest, darkest night of the year, even in a storm, the Eiffel Tower still lights the famous City of Lights. I guess just I’ll have to look at my pictures.

Photos From Around the World

I thought, since it is New Years Eve, I would post a photo gallery of shots from some of the places I’ve been around the world. Sort of a “Best of” gallery from previous posts. I’ve been only blogging since August, so I have yet to post shots from everywhere I’ve been. And, I have yet to even start posting video from all of these places. That is what 2014 is for. Resolution 🙂

The world is a big, beautiful place, filled with interesting people, amazing sights, random coincidences and occasional tender mercies. I have been blessed to travel. I have been blessed to make friends on every continent. I hope to keep the friends I have made and make more as time goes by. However, my greatest blessings are found at home, with a warm fire, a good meal and my family, who love me.

I hope you enjoy the photographs. Happy New Year.

Places of Paris, Volume 2

So much to see, so little time. With so many sites, the challenge was to really see, to look for the commonplace and see the unique vibrance hidden beneath the rush. Judge for yourself. I was inadequate, overwhelmed, rushed. A feast before me, I had little time to decide of what to partake. Yet, I came away filled.

The Metro was our friend and we walked, and walked, and walked…and the sun went down.

La Ville Lumiére: but first you have to get there

Eiffel TowerThe good news–Tom and I were going to Paris for a documentary film shoot.  The bad news–we only had one day in the city for B-roll. Fortunately, our contacts in Paris agreed to provide a driver who would take us wherever we wanted to go.

Great! We’ll meet him at the airport.

We arrived in Paris early in the morning. Our flight from England had been bumpy and a steady rain was falling in the city. In spite of the early hour, Charles De Gaulle airport was crowded. I’d been to Paris before and knew what to expect.  Pushy people. Cranky travelers. Still true.

Charles de Gaulle AirportWe retrieved our gear and made our way toward the exit, passing the line of people holding signs. I didn’t see my name. We came to the end of the row.  No sign. No driver. Finding a spot for our carts, I made a call.

“Pierre, where are you?”

“I am here.”



“So are we.”

“This is good.”

I don’t speak French.  Pierre spoke English, but I had the impression that complex concepts were not part of his capabilities.

“How do we find you?”

“Do not worry. I will find you.”

Really? How? The call ended before I could ask. Tom looked at me skeptically. He had listened in on the conversation. He decided to swim against the current and take another pass at the sign holders.

“No luck?”


“I didn’t know you speak Spanish.”

“I don’t.”

“Bonjour mes frères.”

True to his promise, Pierre stood before us, holding a sign with our names on it. His smile was encouraging.

“Bonjour,” we said. “How did you find us?”

“This way,” Pierre said, ignoring our question and stepping into the stream of transient people.

“How did he find us?” Tom asked me. I shrugged, following Pierre’s example and pushing my cart into the stream.

As we made our way through the airport, I noticed that Pierre was older than he sounded on the phone. He had a shuffle-step limp and didn’t seem to see particularly well. When the crowds thinned out and I could walk beside him, Pierre assured me he could drive us anywhere we wanted.

“Perfecto,” I said, not really sure which language, if any, that was.

Parking terminal 2FOur carts piled high with equipment, Tom and I forded the river of humanity-in-transit as Pierre lead us to parking level minus-2F.  We followed him, slowly, through the underground depths to row eleven, space twenty-six.  Pierre stopped abruptly and stared at the car in space twenty-six.  Tom and I stared at Pierre, staring at the car in space twenty-six.

“Pierre, I don’t think this car is going to work,” I said, as the truly Parisian mini-smart car waited proudly before us.

“No,” Pierre said.  “This car will not work.”

Tom and I looked at each other, not sure if this realization was just dawning on him or if Pierre had known this when he rented the car.

“Pierre, can we exchange it?”

“No,” he said with his strong French accent.

“No?” we repeated.

“No!” he repeated.

“Pierre, this car won’t do.”

“This is not my car.”

“Not your car?”

“No.” Pierre said.

Tom and I looked at each other again, relieved.

“Okay.  Where’s your car?”

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t know?” We had picked up the habit of repeating everything Pierre said.  It was comforting but not really clarifying.

“No.” Pierre continued to stare at the smart car. “This is where I parked.”

Now what?

Pierre began to shuffle down the row of cars. “Sometimes I have memory problems,” I think I heard him say—not sure—he was facing away from me—maybe I just imagined he said it.

“What kind of car is it?” I asked.

“Use the clicker,” Tom suggested.

Pierre didn’t answer.  He just got further away.

“I’ll help him,” Tom said, abandoning his cart and racing down the opposite row of cars.

Charles de Gaulle parking 2EIn moments, Pierre and Tom had disappeared from view and I was left alone with two carts of equipment.  The air in the parking garage was stale, carbon monoxide mixed with French tobacco.  The temperature seemed to be rising.  The ceiling seemed to be getting lower. The lights were growing dim… I sat down on my baggáge to wait.

Charles de Gaulle airport is big.  Really big. So is the parking structure. Pierre and Tom appeared and disappeared at regular intervals, emerging and submerging into and out of the bulkhead dividing rows.  This was comforting and disconcerting, for awhile. Then they were gone. For a long time.

When he eventually did return, Pierre assured me he had parked in one of the rows.

“Good to know,” I said, trying not to be cynical. “Which one?”

“It should be here,” Pierre said.

I could only agree, both of us shrugging as if the car had moved by itself.

Tom finally returned, breathing hard.  He had jogged the entire length of the section.

“Volkswagen,” Tom said. Pierre had remembered somewhere down one of the rows.

“Any luck?” I said.

“No,” Tom said matching Pierre’s accent.

After one hour of searching for the car, using the clicker, we began to think maybe someone had stolen it.  However, Pierre assured us that was not the case. He gave me the impression that Paris was without thievery of any kind.

“Have faith,” he said.

What else could we do? There was only so much daylight available.  So, we kept looking—faith and prayer tinged with a hint of desperation.

Charles de Gaulle parking section 2EAfter two-and-a-half hours, in a different terminal, we found the car.

“Voíla. Right were I left it,” Pierre said, smiling sincerely.

“Voíla,” I said. My French accent was not as good as Tom’s.

As we got in the car, Pierre asked, “Would you drive?  I don’t know how to drive a stick shift.”

Tom and I looked at each other, uncertain now how Pierre had actually parked the car.  “Sure,” I said, “Let’s go see Paris.”

“I will show you,” Pierre said.