We awoke on a beautiful Saturday morning after our first nights’ sleep in Paris rested and ready to explore. Our first adventure was to climb the towers of Notre Dame Cathedral. When we awoke that morning (at a jet-lagged 4 am!), I had no idea that in a few hours, we’d be climbing the stairs of the famous scientist and future Saint, Servant of God Jerome Lejeune.
What can I say: Paris is magical like that.
We had planned to meet up with American friends of ours who were also, coincidentally, in Paris at the same time as us. They were staying with friends right near Notre Dame, and they clued us in that the tower-climbing lines grew very long throughout the day, so the thing to do was to secure a spot in line before the Tower tour’s 10 am opening time. Grateful for the tip, and already late for the 9:00 am Mass at Notre Dame that I’d entertained hopes of attending, we queued up with our friends around 9:20 am in the line that was already wrapping around the side of the cathedral to await our chance to mount the stone steps up to the towers. The tower ticket office didn’t actually decide to open until around 10:15 that day, but that gave us a fantastic chance to purchase Second Breakfast for the children (crêpes from a cart across the street) and catch up with our friends.
The friends were a party consisting of the wife of my grad school mentor and two of their adult daughters. I’m currently working on editing a book project with him. Which is so exciting! I’m not sure how much I can publicly reveal right now, but here’s a hint: It’s all about the catechesis of marriage and family, and it will bear a striking resemblance to A Catechesis for Business: Touch Ethical Questions and Insights from Catholic Teaching, edited by Drs. Andrew Abela and Joseph Capizzi.
Anyway, when I emailed my co-editor that I’d be unable to work on my part of the book for a while because I would soon be travelling to France with my family, he replied that, as it turns out, his wife and two of their daughters would be there at the same time. They were going to Paris and Paray-le-Monial. The ladies were staying with friends they knew from their work on the Pontifical Council for the Family and from their time speaking at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. So cool, right? I know, it totally is! But this couple is so down-to-earth, faith-filled, and warm–they hosted Nathan and I for holidays back when we were poor, displaced grad students living on the wrong coast, they let us house and dog sit for them when they went on vacation (hilarity definitely ensued), and he, along with a few other professors, allowed me to bring my infant daughter to class with me in graduate school. Nothing like discussing the imago dei and the feminine genius around a seminar table with other students who were all seminarians, priests, an Eastern Rite bishop or two, and maybe one other lay student (a man, of course!), while I, the only woman in the room, nursed my newborn daughter. Nathan and I were delighted to meet up with their family again. Their youngest daughter had been five when I started grad school. Now she is finishing high school.
I had a blast catching up and gabbing with our friends while waiting in line, comparing notes about Catholic marriage prep programs, hearing about the one they are writing, finding out about what their adult children are all up to, and just basking in the radiant ebullience of their faith and joy. My own children, however, were tiring of the wait, and of all this talk that was super boring to them.
Fortunately, we soon made it up the towers.
The Seine River had recently flooded, and it was amazingly high still. Our friends said that the week before, the barges docked on the banks of the Seine were at the level of the tops of the trees alongside the river.
Everyone in the family enjoyed the great views of Paris all around us, and it helped orient our kids to the city on our first full day of touring. The gargoyles amused the kids; Kate especially enjoyed the elephant gargoyle. (Okay, technically, it’s a chimera.)
Touring the towers was definitely a high! (See what I did there?)
As we descended and made our plans for the rest of the day, our friends invited us to come with them to visit the Pontifical Academy for the Family friends they were staying with: Professor Jerome Lejeune’s family! That amazing visit will be the subject of my next post, so stay tuned. Even better, sign up to receive my posts straight in your inbox! Yes, my tech team (read: Nathan) has set me up with my very own MailChimp account. We’re still below double digits of subscriptions, so sign up now and you can be fans of the band before they went mainstream.