I was seventeen the first time I visited Paris. After a two week stay with a French Family in Nuits-St-Georges, the school party I travelled with had a little free time in the capital city before heading home. I will never forget those few hours alone exploring the streets, crossing the river, stumbling upon Notre Dame, wandering the length of the Champs Elysées. I’m not a city girl, but on that day Paris crept into my heart. My husband and I spent our honeymoon there and I’ve been blessed enough to return several times. One year, as I attended a two week Education conference, I spent le 14 juillet watching fireworks light up the sky over la Seine as French citizens all over the country and the world, celebrated their values of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité. Freedom. Equality. Brotherhood.

Expressions of shock and horror and condemnation over the events this weekend that have claimed so many lives have been expressed millions of times across the world, the destruction that a handful can inflict on a community beyond comprehension.

I don’t know the names of the dead, I haven’t yet seen any of their photos that will trickle across our television screens in the days and weeks ahead. People who’d had a hard day at work, who were celebrating a birthday, catching up with friends, laughing at a joke, trying to say sorry to someone. People who’d planned what they were going to wear, bought tickets for a concert weeks ago, saved up for an evening out, looked forward to a great weekend. No two stories the same. Gone.

So, what sort of people could perpetrate such unthinkable acts of murder? What sort of evil inhabits their hearts?

#PrayforParis, alongside other expressions of grief, has swept social media. As I did just that earlier today, as I continue to pray for that city in my own inadequacy, I was reminded to examine my own heart. Along with all the others who profess to be Christians, we are called to be light in the world, for even the tiniest light can be seen through darkness. We are called to be salt, to add flavour to the life of the world. We are told that out of the heart, a man speaks, and as a man speaks, so actions follow. But so often, my heart is so full of my own needs, my own frustrations, my own prejudices, my own intolerance, that impatience, anger, dissatisfaction, jealousy, selfishness are what spills out. Self-justification becomes the currency by which I buy my peace of mind; it’s okay to say this, do that because the person I’m irritated by, the person who has cheated me, hurt me, betrayed me, doesn’t deserve anything else. Their hearts aren’t filled with patience and goodness or love, so why should I bother about how I treat them? Because, so long as I profess to love God, to claim His forgiveness, it’s my heart I should bother about.

In my last blog post, I wrote about words and quoted one of St Paul’s letters where he talks about the nature of love. That same passage could equally apply here, but I’m reminding myself of other words he wrote, to yet another group of early Christians in Galatia who were not quite getting the point:

‘But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. There is no law against these things.’

As the city of Paris, the French nation, the people of the world community who condemn the evil that has been done, as humanity seeks to root it out and replace darkness with light, let me look to my own heart and make sure that the fruit I produce in my life is not bitter or spoiled or rotten.

Leas Amoureux aux Poireaux; Robert Doisneau, Paris 1950

Leas Amoureux aux Poireaux; Robert Doisneau, Paris 1950


10 thoughts on “#PrayforParis

  1. Sue Carey

    Beautiful words Julia.
    You shine a light in this dark world just by writing so passionately about the events in Paris.
    We are so blessed that we can write about it freely.
    Just a few days ago we remembered those who died for our freedom, and now this horror in a country that fought on the front line.
    #PrayforParis, praying for peace.
    Thank you for your words, written from a beautiful spirit.
    Much love,
    Sue xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. And almost at the same time over forty people were blown up in Beirut, Lebanon. The horrors are without borders. A peaceful solution is the only answer. Vietnam and Afghanistan taught us that wars were friend and foe are indistinguishable are unwinnable.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Even though I have no personal connection with Paris or France, I found the events horrific. I can’t imagine with someone such as yourself, who has a deep love and connection. We are called to be light and salt, and I myself have so many insecurities and inadequacies. But I know as Christians we have to pray, but also walk and live ‘in the light’. Thank you for sharing Julia. So well written!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. MILLE MERCI! I thank you, Ma’am! ❤
    * * *
    "A Moveable Feast" – "Paris est une fête" by Ernest Hemingway
    “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast… When we came back to Paris it was clear and cold and lovely… There is never any ending to Paris and the memory of each person who has lived in it differs from that of any other. We always returned to it no matter who we were or how it was changed or with what difficulties, or ease, it could be reached. Paris was always worth it and you received return for whatever you brought to it… You belong to me and all Paris belongs to me…

    Paris was never to be the same again although it was always Paris and you changed as it changed… You expected to be sad in the Fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintry light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person had died for no reason. In those days, though, the spring always came finally but it was frightening that it had nearly failed…”


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