Praying for Paris

Paris, Je t'aime

14 Nov Praying for Paris

Most mornings I journal but today, as I curled up on my couch, hot cup of coffee in hand and reached for my familiar spiral-bound book, its cover took my breath away.  Devastated by yesterday’s deadly attacks on the French capital, I yearned to express my sadness, a sort of cathartic exercise, and my own small show of solidarity for the mourning nation. My eyes filled with tears–the irony socked me in the gut–as floating on my journal’s turquoise coloured cover, sits a gold-emblazoned image of the Eiffel tower rising up from red and pink roses, the inscription reading, Paris, je t’aime.

Rocked by the worst carnage since WW II, Paris was attacked by terrorists last night. At least 129 people are dead and hundreds more injured. Innocent civilians: people out for dinner and drinks, laughing and celebrating the end of the work week; mostly young people at a rock concert; football fans gathered for a match between France and Germany.

The extremists who will claim responsibility for the devastation in Paris will die to destroy the very freedoms thousands of Kelowna residents gathered at City Park to celebrate, just two days ago. It was the biggest turn out for Remembrance Day ceremonies on record. In fact, Canadians across the country came out in record numbers to honor our veterans and those still engaged in combat.

Perhaps we realize we’re still at war. In this fight, no code of battle conduct exists. The perpetrators act upon pure hatred. Dark, immoral, unfeeling, unrelenting evil.

I’ve had the privilege of visiting the capital of romance. Friends just returned. Who doesn’t dream of Paris, the city that suffered this unthinkable nightmare?

My daughter is currently in Quebec City, having traveled ten hours from Halifax, with friends, to see one of the oldest European settlements in North America. University students on their reading break and challenged budgets, they’re staying in a hostel, meeting up with high school pals traveling from Queens and McGill. Together they’ll  visit the magical Ville de Quebec, taking in historical sites like Chateau Frontenac, La Citadelle, and the famous St. Lawrence River, immersing themselves in Quebecois culture, established in 1608 by French explorer, Samuel de Champlain. The French, they are our cousins.

I know it’s silly, but I had to talk to her–so I texted. For that matter, I talked to my son, also on a road trip with friends during his reading break, and my husband, working out of town. I needed to feel connected to those I love the most. It was early on, my daughter hadn’t yet heard details of the destruction in Paris.

I’m so good, mommy! She texted. I’m having the time of my life!

And that is exactly what she should be doing at eighteen. It’s what we stand for–the freedom to be educated, to travel, to commune with friends and explore cultures; to grow and learn in love and safety, to laugh and raise a glass in joie de vivre.

My heart breaks for the French people, my prayers go out to the injured and to those who have lost loved ones, but my spirit will not be broken by those who seek to forever darken the light so many fought for us to embrace. Inspired by their sacrifice, we must soldier on in faith and hope, without fear, for the freedoms we cherish.

…Paris taxi drivers ferrying passengers for free, Parisians opening their doors for strangers on the street who sought safety, thousands singing the French anthem as they were evacuated from the soccer stadium last night and now millions from nations around the world, holding vigils, lighting candles, laying flowers, saying prayers, joining together, proving love will overcome hate.