So my last post, about the relationship between church and state both sides of the Euromerican Pond mentioned my encounter with an English church, but in the background were visits to St Pauls and two days later to Westminster Abbey and a few days later to York Minster.
But I added to that list an experience of church across the Channel. But I run ahead of myself; let me tell you a story.
It was arranged long before I left home at the bottom of the South Pacific that on my second day in London I was a going to meet up with our email worship leader buddy, Helen Tyers. She said, and emphasised that HAD to be there at St Pancras Station at 7 am and NO LATER! Well, I mean, what’s the hurry? As far as I knew we had all day to wander around London and see the sights.
However, being of a cowardly frame of mind when a woman insists that I gotta…whatever I gotta…then I gotta. So at about 6:54am I walked into the shopping centre and was greeted by Helen in her wheelchair (she said I’d recognise her – no problem!) After affectionate first greetings and happy laughter she then changed the total complexion of that day, with these words, “would you like to go to Paris?” Which question she backed up by handing me tickets for the cross-channel train to Paris…leaving in half-an-hour. Huh?! Me? Paris??!!! Yahooooo!!!
The video of my mixture of delight and incredulity was kind of fun to see.
So within 30 minutes my incredulous psyche was watching the sights of the English countryside flash past at astonishing speeds…followed later by the unfolding French landscape. And then a continuing flow of moments where I kept saying to myself, “You’re really walking through the streets of Paris. You are. Pete Bristow is strolling through Paris in the company of a wonderfully mad woman in a wheelchair and her PA.”
So we went and visited St Chappelle (the one time chapel of French Royal families) a gloriously decorated building with stained glass that stretched from just above to waaayyyy above my head…my guess is about 10 -15 metres (30 -40+ feet). A beautiful place of worship…though pretty much a museum…stuck in a court one side of the Palais de Justice. The we explored the less shining, but somewhat massive splendour of of Notre Dame. (I felt it was somewhat diminished by the devotion to Mary everywhere…and the sheer size of it all.)
And then as we leaving we became aware that the place had been closed…just before 2pm…and there were TV vans everywhere, and big, strong, dead-eyed men with curly bits of plastic sticking out of their ears were watching us tourists with adrenalised alertness. Ah. Sarkozy was coming to join in a service of commemoration forr those who went down in the Air France plane off the coast of Brazil. (of course seeing the Air France pilots might have helped in reahing that conclusion.)
Irrelevant facts include that I ate snails and…liked it! No, truly! Also that Onion Soup is real heavy on the cheese, think the worst Pizza Hut pizza and add some. Phew! That dining in France takes long enough to make you miss the train even though you left lots of time to get there. Yup we missed it. I don’t “think” it was a cunning plan to get us another night in the City of lights. But we did have to stay. It was pleasant and we did catch the morning train at 6:30 am (check in time 6am!)
Oh and we went up the Eiffel Tower and on the river Seine…and ate twice in French cafes where food was astonishingly good. And we finally made oit back to London on the following morning, in time to freshen up and attack London’s sights and then head for Helen’s home village in Derbyshire…
Next blog will be about my discovery that there is sucha thing as Methodist Evangelicals (in the Midlands at least.)
Meantime, don’t just stay afloat, watch for the waves of the Spirit and launch out.