Thursday, July 20, 2006 1:59:11 AM
I left my hotel by 6:30 AM this morning and went to shoot photos in the streets of Paris. I wanted to take advantage of the morning sunlight. I also wanted to return to Notre Dame. Morning is a good time to photograph buildings, but not a good time to photograph people. There are few people in the streets of Paris at 7 AM. This is a city that stays up late and plays hard and therefore gets up late. Notre Dame, however, was wonderful. It was quiet because no one except the most devout were there. I sat in a pew just to be alone.
Being here in Notre Dame was a chance to spend a few quality minutes with Mother. This time I did not have the catharsis that I had last time. Those kinds of experiences are reserved for just a few special moments in a lifetime, but I did have a good chat with myself. I attended mass and actually took communion! Later I wondered, why on earth did I come to Paris and receive communion? As I watched the priest, I thought, “This could be me.” I have done this in my temple so many times. I received the communion because I wanted to feel what it is like to be on the other side of the altar. As a priest I spend all of my life giving, giving, and giving. This time I wanted to receive, just once.
Sitting in this glorious cathedral contemplating my existence felt good. There is great pleasure in being a simple worshipper. But why Paris and why a Christian cathedral? Why am I not in Benares sitting in a Hindu temple? The answer is simple. If I went to Benares I would in some tiny way still be at work, a Christian cathedral frees me of that completely. It matters little that the religious symbols are Christian. I see Mother, Notre Dame. And perhaps the most important reason I come to Notre Dame is because here in this cathedral I am reminded of the mystery that surrounds life. The ambience of this cathedral pulls my heart to heaven. I have been to many churches and temples all over the world and every once in a while I find one that particularly “talks” to me. So Notre Dame has become my spiritual home, a place of pilgrimage. However, I only want to stay here for a few minutes because ultimately I want to get back to living. The purpose of the priest in this cathedral, like my own purpose in my temple in California, is to help others touch this mystery, but even a priest needs to leave the altar and go out and live. Anna, of all the great places of worship that I have been to, Notre Dame touches my heart the most. I have no idea why, but it just does and I accept her blessings. As a traveler comes to an oasis for a small relief, I come to Notre Dame, and now I am ready to go back to the streets of Paris and find some more of life.