Pray for Paris and Beirut and . . .


(Alex Smithson)

At the request of Mother Nature and in solidarity with Paris, I am posting this sign.

Friday the 13th, 2015. A horrific day for Paris. Having never been, I cannot extol its virtues, or reminisce about places I’ve been. I’ve seen movies about it, read about it, a friend lives there, but that’s as far as it goes.

I wish I could say with confidence there won’t be any more Parises in our future, but that would be naive. This latest attack brings to mind the terror of 9-11, which violated and devastated my home city. It makes me tired and sad. But we must fight the evil that brought about these events.

I’m trying to truly understand, so I’m reading articles, watching news reports on CNN. The most informative piece I’ve read so far is this article in The Atlantic. It shows how little we  know about ISIS, how far off the mark we’ve been.  We must learn, stand together and fight. Prayers are always welcome, but they only go so far.

And for those who don’t know (I just found out), 43 died in Beirut in a double suicide bombing perpetrated by ISIS on November 12. Let us keep the Lebanese in our prayers as well.




Paris is the City of Lights

Towards the end of an episode of “The War,” a Ken Burns documentary on PBS, Mom said, “Paris is the city of lights,” with a gleam in her eye.

The men and women interviewed for this film were relating their experiences during WWII, when Mom was a young girl.

“Was Paris your favorite city?” I said.

“One of them.”

“Which other ones did you like?” I said.

“Vienna.” She had a dreamy look in her eyes.

“What about Haworth?”


“Brontë country.”

“Yes, of course.”

Always a fan of books by the Brontë sisters, particularly Wuthering Heights, I assumed her favorite place in Europe would have been Yorkshire, England. She brought back a sprig of heather from the moors which she placed under the glass top of our antique coffee table, which is now in my house. She and my Dad traveled to Europe in 1972; it would be her only trip abroad. She kept a journal during that trip, jotting down her impressions. She used a delicate sprig of heather as a bookmark.

coffee table with heather

Her illustrated volume of Wuthering Heights from the 1940s was among the possessions that got ruined during Hurricane Irene. Most of her belongings were stored in our basement when we got flooded. She doesn’t know this, nor does she need to.

None of this matters anymore.

What matters is this moment, that she is happy recalling her time in Paris and Vienna, no matter how fleeting.

It makes me happy too.