Tag Archives: Paris

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.


Woman In Paris

Cedar City Art Walk Image 5.

Her eyes speak volumes.
A woman rests from her burdens.

It was raining in Paris that morning as I sought shelter beneath the balustrades and terraces of the Louvre Palace. My timing was off. The museum was closed. I was not alone in my disappointment as I watched a woman trudge beneath our columned shelter and sit, wearily, against stone. She was not present with the host of tourists surrounding this space. She looked beyond, focused on something my eyes could not see. Trouble, sadness, sorrow, suffering. I could not know. Yet, in her eyes I could see the reflection of ghosts in Paris. On this day, I would not see the Mona Lisa smile.

For more info on my show check out a June 11th article in The Spectrum.



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.

Versailles, what’s it like inside?

I think you could spend days inside. We rented an audio device with a recorded digital audio tour. Each room had a number. The number corresponded to the program on the audio device. It was interesting and fascinating. I felt compelled to move on after the short room history ended. I finished my tour of the Palace in an hour. I could have, and should have taken longer.

Château de Versailles, A View from the Palace Grounds

Whether or not Marie Antoinette actually said, “Let them eat cake,” is up for debate. What isn’t up for debate is the fact that the French Aristocracy of the 17th century had lost touch with the plight of the common folk. In 1682 King Louis XIV moved the center of political power in France from Paris to Versailles. His heir, Louis the XV and his heir, Louis the XVI, expanded the elaborate and exquisite palace in a decadent game of one-upmanship, each seeking to outdo the extravagance of the last. The Château, or Castle, or Palace of Versailles represented the system of absolute monarchy in the divine right of kingship.

The people had no bread. Yet the Kings inlaid gold throughout their palace and threw elaborately expensive balls. For this very reason, it may be possible to understand why, on October 6, 1789 the Royal Family was forced to leave Versailles for the Tuileries Palace in Paris as a result of the Women’s March on Versailles and the erupting revolution. Not long after, in spite of lofty ideals, the people’s French Revolution removed the heads of those who ignored the basic humanity of their subjects instead choosing art and architecture over liberty and life.

As I visited the marvelously decadent and brilliantly ostentatious palace, now a historical museum, I felt that traditional photographic images did not rise to the same level of ornate excess demanded by the creators of Versailles or by the palace itself. So, I look through the lens wishing it were canvas and brush, hoping that the images could transcend the common and rise, with the ghosts of Versailles, to the courts of Art.

Things in Paris

People, places, things–I think I’ve pretty much covered it. This will be my last post from Paris–a collection of random stuff–shapes, lines, designs, stuff–much of it transportation related–since we were running, literally, around the city. The city of lights, the city of love, good food, great architecture, interesting people–Paris has it all. Some may wonder, then, why shoot this–stuff? Storytelling, for me, begins with the wide shot and gets more specific. I am fascinated by shapes, lines, interesting stuff. It is so easy to miss the interesting stuff. It is even more difficult to see the interesting stuff, in interesting ways. The story of my visit to Paris–a story I will never forget–and, one I hope to visit again–concludes with the specific, yet random–from my treasure box of stuff.

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.

Places of Paris, Volume 1

Paris is a vibrant city,rich in tradition, culture and history. As I spent time, not nearly enough, in the city, I felt the stories, written in the walls, stones and walkways. I couldn’t help looking through my lens to capture, not what I saw, but what I felt. High dynamic range photography seemed to be the only way I could bridge the gap between my dreams and my abilities. HDR images provided some relief from the need to capture the singular light of this marvelous city on canvas. I have no skill with the brush. I must rely on pixels to form the images I can only imagine amidst the landmarks which call to me in my sleep.