The Pope’s shoes

imageToday had much to do with empty shoes and I hope the photos will explain best.

Been a little lost these past days in Paris. It happens.  We vision  a very specific outcome from footsteps, and often that isn’t the case.  This day a march in the streets of Paris was to happen and it didn’t . Paris the city of Liberty, equality, and fraternity shut down the public’s opportunity to voice it’s overwhelming concern over our world governments position  on the climate issue. I’m sorry, but fear isn’t the final word on freedom of assembly, and speech. Twenty-five French March organizers were put under house arrest this weekend.  Never mind all the open markets with vendors serving thousands, or the football stadiums with tens of thousands, or the daily grind on the streets which expose everyone to a bullet or a bomb … no, this march was different.  Enough said. You know my position.

But here’s the deal, regardless of this unfortunate situation … Something unexpected happened. They created a visual symbol, so poignant a message, that I, and I suspect many others, found they weren’t lost anymore. It was the Place de la Republique filled with empty shoes, and it was authorized by the city as was a single file line of citizens that stretched many blocks down Avenue Voltaire. That didn’t stop the police from lining up scores of paddy wagons and riot police, and as you might expect, when the official event ended and the shoes all packed up for repurposing, the kids took to the streets. The police, their tear gas, and paddy wagons were all put to use.

And what about the Popes shoes? They were bagged and loaded on a truck for the needy with all the others. I wish I could know who will put them use, but I do know in coming days people will recognize the message of those empty shoes, and how people around the globe came together to support the climate movement and the Paris March that wasn’t … Or was it?imageimage

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Yeah, I touched!

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Loading all the shoes for repurposing

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The single file line

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My fellow climate marchers with close to 15 thousand combined miles.

 

 

Time on foot in Paris

imageI am still walking every step… no underground yet. Paris is not as big as you might think.  Yesterday I passed several sites of this months terror attacks. They seemed like wounds being dressed to heal. The violence is still evident in the broken glass, bullet holes, and barricades but the whole of each place impacted by this violence is bathed in candles, piles of flowers, and thousands of messages to the victims, and to us. There’s healing underway.  I think there’s a time when places of violence become shrines. Sometimes it heals quickly, and sometimes it remains an open wound used as a matter of resolve for the living. Paris has monuments to the wounds that would not heal all across its fabric. This sacrifice is not likely to be forgotten.

 

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On possibly a lighter note, I went to Pere Lachaise cemetery, and visited, with many others, Jim Morrison’s grave…. In fact, it’s the most visited shrine in the entire cemetery, and that’s with some stiff competition ( pardon the pun) with the likes of Oscar Wilde, Sarah Burnhardt, and Frederick Chopin.

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Oscar Wilde’s tomb covered with lipstick kisses

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Pere Lachaise cemetery

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Bronze crypt door

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Jim Morrison’s nearly inaccessible grave

The final steps to Paris

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A view from the front gate of Versailles toward Paris

The day was supposed to be rather short. There was talk of seeing the sites around Versailles. The truth is I walked from one end of the Versailles grounds to the other and then turned and walked half way around the front… Miles. I felt I had seen enough for one day. Better to save Louis’s Palace for another time. I followed the grand boulevard in front of the Palace and headed for Paris. Sidewalks were there all the rest of the way. My footsteps cut thru 11 miles of urban area before reaching  the edge of Paris.  There was one last ridge to climb and then a view of the city finally was given. When landmarks become visible, there’s no holding back. By 4pm I was resting in a Hotel near the Arc de Triomphe,  and the Avenue des Champs Elysees. The next morning the sun visited. Ed & I made our way back to the Arch for a final shot of the journey.

More on the city and summit to come.

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Following signs…

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Walking the Avenue Du President Kennedy

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Crossing the Seine

Language

imageI’ve walked across a big chunk of France this month without speaking their language. It has been difficult of course. In France, it seems English isn’t a commonly used 2nd language.  Just as French isn’t  easily found in say, Kentucky.  I hope I didn’t just offend all y’all back home with 2 years of high school French! Without question, the greater number of folks here have made a huge effort to help me with my deficit. It was much more than I expected.

What This really brings to mind is a broader aspect of “language”.  Without understanding,  interactions between people can be rather unsettling. The mind can create fear and misunderstanding. We have some timely examples of people whose culture isn’t understood, or whose faith isn’t heard. As I head into Paris  I am aware of language …  how important it is. With the climate issue we have the active language of our past, A language easily communicated. A language tied to 200 years of fossil fuel prosperity and the values it created.  There is another language. It may not be your native language but try to learn it, and teach another.imageimage

Sleepless in Houdan

It was supposed to be an early day. A day when we could catch up on laundry & such. What happened? There’s a late breakfast, some photo breaks, a few tweaks of my route to avoid the traffic… No more early day.

We made Houdan at about 4pm.  The well worn Morrocon restaurant with rooms upstairs to rent was the choice spot in town… Because it was the only spot in town.  A young manager finishing kitchen clean up checked me in and made me aware of a code for the front door. After lengthy instruction I was ready to come and go from the building. Then he left. There was nobody in the building but me till Ed showed up. I had texted the code so he made it thru our security system.  We had no towels in the room. With nobody to call , we improvised. I made  a trip downstairs to the front desk and chose a key from all the empty rooms, then went back upstairs, entered another room and took their sets of towels… The place was mine.  It was hours before the hot water furnace started to creak, gurgle, and knock. This went on all night. I would have taken another key and moved rooms 10 times over if it would have helped but the whole building was howling all night long.  Every trip should have a sleepless night  in a Morrocon hotel.image

The Google walking man

imageAs most know, a smartphone and GPS can get you anywhere these days. We moved off route to deal with some heavy traffic and route ourselves daily using the little Google walking man. When we look for small roads and short cuts the walking man is there and often full of surprises. Today was a reprieve from the rain of recent days. Ed & I started out at different times and did the same route in the beginning, but as we got into our walks we both started tweaking short cuts and discovered some beautiful back roads most cars couldn’t drive these days. Their existence is due to an earlier day when the populace was spread thinner across the land … And more of them were walking!  Here’s a few views and wonderful surprises from my google maps journey today. imageimage