Saturday, October 1, 2011

Sacre Coeur

It's a weird thing, getting older. I'm really not all that comfortable with it. Not having had children, I didn't have the natural progression into being looked to as The Adult. In my head I'm still in my 20s, but my body is changing in ways that don't make sense to my self-image. My parents are aging, and now I worry about them in the same way they must have been concerned for me when I was out sowing my wild oats. Instead of thinking about what else I might enjoy doing for a living, I'm wondering how I'll ever be able to retire. There are so many things I want to do, and I feel as if time is running out. I do not like this one little bit.

I had a dream the other night that left me feeling a deep gratitude for the relationship I have with my parents mixed with a profound sadness that our time together is finite. For days now, the words "Sacre Coeur" have been floating in and out of my thoughts.

Sacre Coeur, from the long steps leading up to it.

Sacre Coeur

Dad and I are on a mid level platform looking up the hill to Sacre Coeur in Paris. I’m explaining to him all about the levels of the city and trying to get him to see and feel the beauty of the city I love so much. We are making our way up the hill through neighborhoods of artists and regular Parisians toward the church. I am worried about the pain in Dad’s legs. I don’t want him to be in pain but I hope he can make the climb. He’s worried too about his knees, but seems to be doing just fine. We stop at a platform/overlook and look back on the lower part of Paris. I point out landmarks to him while we rest. I am anxious that we make it to the top so he can experience the magnificence of Sacre Coeur, but am also just so happy to be here with him. We are sharing our heritage. We both turn to look up at the church at the same time. I know we are getting closer because I can see only the top of the dome.

The view from Sacre Coeur looking across Paris.

Without even spending much time analyzing this dream, I am struck by the central image of Sacre Coeur, Sacred Heart. The church isn't one of my favorite places in Paris, it's not even in the top 25. I adore the neighborhood, though, which is still peopled with artists and writers. Because of this, it seems such an obvious, bash-over-the-head message to myself that I need to focus on what's really, really at the heart of the sacred for me. I need to focus on what's important, and not waste energy lamenting the signs of my own mortality.

What is most sacred to me? Love is.

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