Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Oct 15, Part 3 - Notre Dame: In the south aisles of the nave

Although the stained glass would have been brighter on a brighter day, I have to say the colors are really lovely in this window.

And this is one of my favorite pictures of the trip so far. There's just something about it that I like.

Here's another very Gothic window in one of the chapels.

Like the image above with the chandelier, I think this one is another of my favorites - the shape and detail of the chandelier against the beautiful clerestory wall with the blue windows is breathtaking.

This is another of the aisles on the south side of the nave. I don't remember why I didn't take a photo of the main nave of the church, but it may have been blocked off. It seemed that there was more happening in the church this visit, and that I felt less free to wander and appreciate than on any of the visits in the past. Still, Notre Dame is special.

It has a feel like nowhere else on Earth, even for those who are not religious. It has an atmosphere that most people respond to. Someone wrote that to enter Notre Dame is to come home, even when you have never been there before. When I read that, I knew that was true for me as well. Notre Dame may be the heart of Paris, but for many, it's also the heart of the world in a way that's hard to explain. I gave it some thought. What happens when you enter? There is an immediate sense of peace - not just quiet, but of stability and security. There's a warmth represented by candles and sconces. Even though Notre Dame is Gothic and therefore pointed, it has a sense of roundness that denotes comfort. It has a gentle and inviting feng shui, not sharp and pointed. Call it what you will, Notre Dame seeps inside your skin and stays there. Here's a link that will tell you some of the exciting and historic things you will not see in Notre Dame.

This seems to be the rose window in the north arm of the transept, even though I was walking on the south side of the cathedral. In looking online for a comparison, it seems that the first panel in the bottom row of smaller windows has a red shield near the bottom on the south side. This one does not.

Candles. Not in focus, but the cathedral would not feel complete without them. I love the warmth they give on a cold day. And, they glow beautifully. Maybe next time I'll contribute one as well.

I'm not sure what this panel is called, but there are pieces of it on the north and south sides as you enter the ambulatory at the east end of the cathedral. I love the colors and I love looking at it. I read a book about the cathedral and the many historic works of art inside, but I've forgotten everything. Maybe when things slow down here at work, I'll find it and add some content to the post. The richness of color afforded by the gold in this wood sculpture is stunning. I can barely imagine the effect it must have had on the original viewers. It still inspires awe for aestheic reasons. I can't begin to describe what it might mean to the religiously pious.

The sacristy. This picture looks better if you click to enlarge it. You can see the arches leading away from the door.

There is certainly a sense of the magical and mysterious in this cathedral - and I don't feel it in every cathedral, and I almost never feel it in smaller churches, except for some of the ancient ones in Europe. It has something to do with age and place. There is something in the ancient stones, a peace, a mystery, a place where imagination can almost meet fulfilment. Where longing can almost touch completion. I believe that part of the appeal and addiction of hunting treasures in the D&D-type dungeons comes from a desire to be part of a similar atmosphere - at least for me I believe this is true. That's odd. I'd never thought of this before. It's a little like that feeling in a dream where you are about to connect with something deep. And then you wake up.

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