London, Vienna, Paris & Venice…

I\’ve got friends visiting France (Bonjour Tracy, Andrew, Kristen & Michael!), a British friend living here who patiently endures Minnesota nice (Hallo Janet!), a German uncle back in his homeland for a visit (Guten tag Dirk!), and a cousin and an aunt on their way to Spain (Hasta la vista, JNy & Glo!), so Europe is on the brain…hope you\’ll join me on my blitz tour here…

The four cities listed above I\’ve been blessed to visit in the past three years. Somehow God smiled down and said \’go\’, so what ya gonna do? I happily saw the sights but tended to tip toward the churches and cathedrals…it was like there was a church vortex that I willingly and blissfully surrendered to.

Cathedral-ically, what do I recall most? Well, Westminster Abbey sticks out (it\’s in London, you know, the one Prince Charles & Lady Di were married in) and boy, was that depressing…it was little more than a mausoleum. There were huge above ground tombs of kings and queens all over the place, they were the main attraction by far. I remember seeing crosses here and there but they were literally dwarfed by the tombs, artwork, statues, gold gilded this, marble that, etc. There was a chapel there that people would come from far and wide to visit because it was known as being a place where healings happened and prayers were answered. It was closed and permanently barred because they said it was in poor condition and wasn\’t safe to enter–it was in the best interest of everyone if they didn\’t visit (how ironic is that!?). I peeked up a stairwell at it and it had this enormous wooden cross in it…it was so beautiful, and beckoned–it also was in stark contrast to the rest of the building, you won\’t find wooden crosses in Westminster. It really felt like Jesus had been completely shut out of that place…I left sick to my stomach. (apologies to all Brits reading this–you\’re a lovely lot, you just have a disappointing London cathedral…).

Paris had, of course, Notre Dame (of the The Hunchback of Notre Dame fame) and I was fortunate enough to actually attend a worship service there…now that is worship! The organ and the music and the beauty of the setting, I could have stayed and stayed… I loved the gargoyles and have since purchased one for my garden–they are supposed to be so ugly they scare off evil spirits–they are like God\’s little guardians. Sometimes things are so ugly you gotta love \’em, I think gargoyles fit the bill there…sorry if you disagree–not your garden, is it!? :-)

Vienna had St Stephen\’s right in the heart of the city. All I remember there is that it was a great spot to meet people (easy to find) and that, for whatever reason, it was really dark in there. We were with a small caravan of friends of Rich\’s that I didn\’t know, so I think I was a little more focused on the group dynamics and meeting new people than anything else. Don\’t recall a lot there. Oh, we did climb to the top for a view of the city, that\’s right, forgot about that…

Venice was a weekend spur of the moment thing for Rich and I (a pic of us in Venice is in the L hand corner of your screen). We had a bit of time and took the train from Vienna to Venice–no regrets there!! The whole Venice experience is beyond any other city I\’ve visited–if you ever get a chance, just go. San Marco (St Mark\’s) is the main cathedral in the city and is entrancing, especially from the outside. Venice itself has the feeling of a fairy tale, a very enchanting fairy tale… If that sounds wild and farfetched to you, then go see for yourself. The other great part of the city (in addition to the ambience, gondola rides, romance, etc) is that there is a church every two blocks or so, with its door wide open. Poor Rich, I think one of his main memories of our visit is me ducking into churches to take in the beauty, pray and light candles.

A more somber Venice memory is of a church where there were different altars (not sure \”altar\” is the correct word here) that you could visit, pray and light a candle at. One was to the patron saint of the church, one to Mary (the mother of Jesus), others were to other saints, and finally there was one to Jesus. He was last on the circuit of altars and every other altar had candles lit, some had a truckload of candles lit. Jesus on the cross didn\’t have one candle lit for Him…I started to cry, I still cry when I think about it. I couldn\’t believe it, it seemed so wrong. I quickly lit a candle for Him and prayed and prayed, no one joined me. When I later left that church there was still only one candle lit for Him.

You know, it got me thinking…He still is that way…He lets us light candles for everyone and everything else and stands waiting for us to recognize Him, to come and worship and pray to Him. Even in churches, I think we stand in His midst and light candles to things other than Him. Things like ministries, to do lists, relationships, events, fundraisers, Bible studies, etc. It looks good, produces a lot, but, in the end, He remains unnoticed, even ignored.

Jesus, this candle is lit for you…

Categories God

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