Exploring the heart of Paris in the Winter
The trees reveal their fractal patterns, and the cafes, galleries, cathedrals and museums are not jammed with tourists.
On January 11, 2020, I flew from Malaga to Paris and together with my dear friend/sister-of-the heart, Parisian Lila Driai, kept a promise I'd made to myself many years ago —to visit the Cathedral of St. Denis located in a suburb of Paris, France. The reason was because my family name is St. Denis.
History records that St. Denis, the first bishop of Paris, became France’s patron saint following his martyrdom in 250 A.D. Named after the grandfather I never knew, Clare St. Denis, my intent was to follow the strands of my DNA, feeling and perhaps even retrieving an essential aspect of self. My desire was also to help further understand cathedral geometry's relationship to the non-linear mathematics!
Tragically, St. Denis is one of the most dangerous cities in France due to humanity’s unwillingness to honour the diversity that is the heart and soul of unity. Immigration from north and central Africa, the failure of cultural integration, high (40%+) unemployment, and municipal mismanagement continues to produce a community that is pockmarked by poverty, religious extremism, drugs, and violent crime.
As if this wasn’t emotionally and mentally challenging enough, getting there took a determined effort because of the transportation strike that was paralysing Paris.
When we finally arrived at the cathedral tears short-circuited my brain and my ability to speak. As we approached the massive front doors, the power of stillness took my breath away before quickly giving it back. Entering the cathedral energy pulsed, an inaudible ‘Music’ felt in my bones, a vibration that echoed up and down the Gothic arcs, braiding across stone corridors and stunning glass windows.
St. Denis was completed in 1144 and is the first cathedral where all the elements of Gothic architecture are present. It is also unique in that those who are buried beneath its foundation and within its walls shared an unusual amalgam of faith; they practiced pagan rituals while subscribing to Christian beliefs.
The burial site of most French kings, St. Denis has a distinctly feminine essence which made it feel self-evident why all French queens were crowned here.
It was 14.44 when we exited the cathedral and at that moment numbers, forms and colours fused into a clear understanding as a missing piece/peace of my soul fell into place. As an artist, it was Time to reclaim my name. Several hours later a second surname was placed on the proof, one of ‘The Nine’ (www.starstuffglitter.com) that I’d given Lila as a gift, St. Denis.
Travel is a source of inspiration and the beating heart felt in every piece of art I create. No matter how busy it gets, travel is a catalyst for curiosity, serenity and the tenacity it takes to live on purpose. Traveling solo is an art in and of itself, self- and other-awareness required whether in the air, on the rails, the road or walking. Joy spontaneously arises when I am alone or with others, the Stillness deepening in the rich context of cultural diversity.
I look forward to meeting you on your journey, exporing the rhymes and reasons for coming together at a unique intersection in space and time.
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