by Ella Corey
After four tightly packed days of museums, historical landmarks, and site- seeing, the halfway point of my trip to Paris last summer had me at the end of my rope. Wandering around a foreign city is all consuming and completely exhausting. The most well known museum in Paris—and possibly in the world—is the Louvre, located in central Paris and containing more than 35,000 pieces of art at a given time. It most definitely cannot be seen in one day, although that was all the time I had to spend there, so our trip was very rushed.
That day was tense; it was mid-summer so the heat wasn’t pleasant. Also, my friends and I were exhausted, and the Louvre is a museum that requires lots of walking—652,300 square feet to be exact. Don’t get me wrong, it was incredible. The amount of art and history all in one museum is mind-boggling, but also extremely overwhelming.
What caught my attention most on this trip, though, was not the Louvre; it was the museum we visited the following day: Musée de l’Orangrie. Now the l’Orangerie isn’t nearly as big as the Louvre, or nearly as famous; it’s actually quite simple. But that’s why I liked it. I entered the museum expecting what I had experienced everywhere else: an overwhelming plethora of ancient art and not enough time to consume it all. But this museum was completely different.
The first room I entered was silent. This oval-shaped room contained four paintings: each a landscape of Claude Monet’s famous water lilies. There were few people in the room, but each sat, stood, stared, or reflected in silence. In contrast to a very hectic week, this room brought so much peace. There’s something so calming about being able to sit and take in one of the world’s greatest works of art, or stand, inches away from the painting, and observe the thousands of tiny strokes that created this masterpiece.
Monet himself sums up the importance of observation very well, saying “It’s on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way. So we must dig and delve unceasingly.” When you’re trying to see all of Paris in one week, it’s difficult finding time to just observe and reflect, but, this quiet little museum forced me to do so—and I was grateful. I hadn’t even been able to appreciate the immense beauty I was taking in until I was still, and reflected on it all.
This is a common problem in my life. Too often I get caught up in my fast-paced busy schedule, and I am not appreciating God’s creation and the blessings He’s given me. I am never taking time to sit and reflect. To do so takes removal from the busyness of life, isolation in a quiet place, where you can take in the beauty around you without distractions. In Psalm 29:11 it is written “The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.”
Jesus himself is titled the “Prince of Peace,” and I believe he brings this exactly. My encouragement to you is to try and find a peaceful place this week. Go somewhere and just take in God’s beauty, reflecting on your blessings and His creation. Escape the busyness of life and find peace in Him.