Wavy French Prayer

Sometimes I don’t know how to begin my prayer drawing so I start with a “template” or form. The prayer below was from my time in Paris a few weeks ago–for my family members who were thousands of miles away. I drew wavy lines or, if you’re into mathematics, sine and cosine curves. The curves gave me a place to start. The hills and valleys provided places for names. Then with just a black pen I added lines, teeth, dots, arcs, squares…. The simple strokes helped me to focus my time and attention on my loved ones.

September 11 in Paris

A week ago I was in Paris. It was September 11. On the Place du Trocadéro, replicas of the twin towers of the World Trade Center displayed the words “The French Will Never Forget” in both French and English. A day of speeches, music, and an evening vigil commemorated the ten-year anniversary of the tragedy. Directly down the huge stairs and across the River Seine stood the Eiffel Tower. If I had been standing in the right place I could have seen the Eiffel Tower framed by the twin towers.

What occurs to me in retrospect is the intersection of the purposes of the two structures. The World Trade Center was a place where people from many nations gathered to conduct business and commerce. When the Towers fell, people from ninety countries (according to Wikipedia) were killed. The Eiffel Tower, too, is a gathering place for people from hundreds of nations. We come to admire the panoramic view, the astonishing structure, and the beauty of an old and magnificent city. For a few moments we are also part of  a world in which the barriers of nation, ideology, and religion do not seem to divide us. At the foot of the Eiffel Tower and near the fountains of the nearby plaza I heard dozens of languages and watched flocks of people move with ease as part of  the beautiful spectrum of humanity.

The World Trade Center and the Eiffel Tower are, for me, Pentecost places.  As Acts 2:1-6 describes, there were people from every nation under heaven and they all understood each other. I admit I didn’t understand the languages I heard nor do I pretend we were all “feeling the love,” but for a moment I had  a glimpse of the possibility of God’s kingdom on earth. The rainbow tapestry of people gave me the chance to imagine what the promise in Galatians might feel like: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3: 28 NIV)

Photos: Sybil MacBeth

In Paris to Play and Pray

Yesterday I flew to Paris to meet my friend Sally. We planned our trip for eight days of play—walking, eating, talking, museum-ing….but with no set agenda. After our plans were made, a French woman contacted me through my website to say she liked my book. I asked her if she wanted to meet for coffee when I was in Paris. She suggested I offer a workshop and then contacted the American Church in Paris–the many denominational Protestant church here. So on Saturday night I’m leading a workshop at the church for their Young Adult group. I met twenty-five of the young adults tonight at a Bible study. Now I’m really looking forward to Saturday night! Not all were from the U.S. There were people from Cameroon, Bulgaria, Romania, France, Pakistan, Ghana….This is the CHURCH in its diverse glory. Hallelujah!

If you or anyone you know happens to be in Paris this coming weekend looking for something to do on Saturday at 7:30 PM, send them to the ACP. All ages of adults are welcome. Details are on the church website. http://www.acparis.org/

Bonne nuit! Il est onze heures et je suis fatiguée.

Shoes

I’m a sucker for art journals and sketch pads. I’m also a sucker for shoes. So this summer I merged the two obsessions. Instead of purchasing books of paper for drawing, I bought canvas shoes—canvas high-tops, canvas low-tops, canvas espadrilles. All make a great 3D platform for doodling. Unlike much of my doodling, creating the wacky footwear was not about prayer; it was just about play.

The day I found a rackful of $7 espadrilles, I thought I had won the lottery. I bought three pairs. And I started singing:
“I got shoes; you got shoes; all God’s children got shoes.
When I get to Heaven
Gonna put on my shoes
I’m gonna walk all over God’s Heaven,
Heaven, Heaven.”

My immediate thought was, “All God’s children don’t have shoes.” Not yet. In the song, shoes are the fulfillment of God’s promise of prosperity. Shoes might not seem like an impressive status symbol to me, but owning shoes for the slaves who sang the song was a huge deal. Shoes might also have been a fantasized item necessary for escape from bondage. How do you travel on the arduous road to freedom with nothing on your feet? When Moses leads the congregation of Israel out of the land of Egypt, God tells the people how to flee hurriedly “with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet.” (Exodus 12: 11) So of course God’s children want shoes to negotiate the rugged terrain to freedom. At least in Heaven, all God’s children would have shoes; all God’s children would be free.

P.S. There’s no reason I couldn’t have prayed while I drew the shoes. I  just didn’t think of it at the time. Looking at the shoes now reminds me to pray for the recipients.