Two weeks before the horrific terrorist attacks, I walked the enchanting streets of Paris. The city was bright and gray- exactly what I hoped for. Every day I watched the bustle of the city- Parisians coming and go along their day. But there was a palpable calm as the city roared around me.
Paris is the quintessential essence of beauty. There’s no doubt about it. From the architecture that soars into the sky to the cobblestone pavement that lines each street. I could feel each contribution- the history in every stone and cornice- each moment in Paris felt connected.
My journey to Europe has been a long time coming. I have always dreamed of getting lost abroad in complete wanderlust. On the heels of a rough time in my life, Paris became a safe haven for me. My world expanded and my roadblocks became conquerable. I felt like I was walking with an old friend shielded by the comfort of the district streets, back alleyways, and winding roads.
On one particular night I sat under the Eiffel Tower. I was awestruck by the flowing energy that radiated from the tower. The energy felt like a beating heart in the middle of the city- merchants peddling selfie-sticks and novel Parisian memorabilia while tourists squealed as they approached the gleaming structure. As I sat alone contently present in my first moment under the tower I felt small in an simply beautiful way. I was instantly grateful for how different Paris was from home. Everything felt lovingly foreign from the people to the city and the culture. There is something God-sent in honoring diversity with respect and acceptance.
When I look at the world I marvel at greatness. I am thankful for the different walks of life that add richness to our world. We all bring something special to the human experience. I will never understand hate, intolerance, violence, or bigotry. I will never understand the need to eradicate what is different or what is not understood. Maybe because I have always been a little bit different- intimately acquainted with isolation and discrimination. I remember my days wandering Paris. In the same way as I remembered walking those same streets on November 13th, and since then I have carried the same thoughts: what would happen if we just put on love and humanity? What if we give thanks for each other- for our various beliefs- and tried to gain wisdom and understanding? What if we put love first and stopped trying to change or control one another?
I believe we could all have the chance to feel safe as we wander a foreign city, fly to lands waiting to be explored, radiate glory as we walk through our hometowns without fear of persecution, or gathering together to listen to our favorite bands in concert. What a world it could be if we would finally grow up and marvel at the beauty we all bring. Maybe then we could feel unwavering unity- finally filled with light and love. If only...