I ascend the short, narrow staircase and enter the Chapel.
An immediate, unquenchable giddiness morphs into a profound sense of awe and wonder as I vacillate between turning quickly trying to take in the entirety of the stained glass that surrounds me on all sides and stopping fully to lose myself in individual panels.
The beauty is overwhelming.
Tears stream down my face as I simply feel the divinity of the building, my mouth forming a huge, irrepressible grin.
I tread delicately around the entire Chapel, opening myself up to every detail. The glass and the Chapel reach for the unreachable, express the inexpressible. That’s divinity. That’s Her.
I walk with Her, letting the warmth of the sun shining through the stunning stained glass keep me company as I try to etch every last detail of the glass and the feelings that I’m experiencing onto my soul. Divinity had perhaps never been so close as in Sainte-Chapelle.
I am filled with Her witness. Words cannot do justice to Her and who She is, but they’re all I have. As the Chapel itself reaches for the unreachable, I feel called to write, to do my part to express the inexpressible, to feel Her light and presence again today, as I walk back to Sainte-Chapelle, placing myself in that sacred hall.
She’s not here, but the power of the glass remains. She lingers with me, and my lips curl up into a soft smile again.
I browse the shelves, not looking for anything in particular. I’m always drawn to the Mormon Scholarship section and can only enter with a specific purpose or clear financial limit or I end up walking out with far more than I intended.
Today, I was looking for Mormon Enigma to fill the Emma-sized hole in my early Church history book collection.
As I walked down the row—buried deep in books, embraced by their collective stories and wisdom, comforted by their presence and witness to past owners and lives outside the walls of the store—I held my hand out, a couple fingers tracing the air in front of the spines as my eyes tracked the titles and authors.
Mmmmmm. No, no, no…oh, Quinn, do they have…? Still no. Next time. Mmmmm, let’s see, ah, yes!
I’d found it. Mormon Enigma. Missing it’s dust jacket. The title in gold lettering against the black of the spine, shining.
I carefully remove it from the shelf (pushing the book out from the back and gripping the spine on both sides, as I was taught by the good, book-loving folks at the Wordsworth Trust), and begin to explore it.
THAT’S A GOOD ONE.
I turn, startled, but no one’s around.
REALLY GOOD. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.
I look all over, but can’t see the sound of the voice in the otherwise low rustles of the bookstore.
But then, I feel something. A friendly, side-hug.
YES, IT’S ME. OBVIOUSLY.
What? Why? What’s going on?
OF COURSE I HANG OUT IN PIONEER BOOK AND WAIT FOR PEOPLE TO LOOK AT MORMON ENIGMA. GOTTA NUDGE PEOPLE IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION.
Uhhhh, I don’t know what to say…
NOTHING YET. READ THE BOOK AND THEN WE’LL HAVE SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT.
My thoughts are muddled and overwhelmed and before I get anything put together, She interrupts.
LOVE YA, CON. GOTTA GO.
She was gone. Some of the warmth and curiosity of the store felt reduced, Her absence noticeable, even when I hadn’t recognized Her presence.
OH. ONE LAST THING.
YOUR HAIR’S [THE VERBAL-NON-VERBAL CELESTIAL/FELT EQUIVALENT OF THE OK SIGN WITH A MOUTH CLICK]. GIVE CEC A KISS FOR ME.
Streetlight Manifesto at the Murray Theatre
The horns started. The trombone and saxophone dueling for dominance, debating eternity. The crowd began to fuse together. All the individuals slipped into the group, losing and maintaining their sense of self all at once. I felt the pull. The crowd moving in a circle, a strong, irresistible current.
My hands and feet flying in coordination with everyone else. My Chuck Taylors made for this. We all move with increasing rapidity. And flow.
We’re basking in, lost in, the music. The horns punctuating the rhythms as we give ourselves over to each other. The world outside drifts away and all there is is the crowd, is us.
We are One.
I surrender to us.
We’re moving, faster and faster as the tempo increases. All giddy with the energy that fills the room. People slip and fall, but are lifted up on the backs of the rest of us. Hands reaching down to pull ourselves up, never letting us hit the ground.
The unity of the crowd is staggering. One motion. I have lost myself in something larger than myself.
I realize the community that I’ve entered, that we’re moving with one heart and one mind. We are one. We are She.
She is us.
We are Her.
As we move as one, we join Her, rejoicing in unity, throwing our hands and feet in time with the ecstasy of the horns, pure joy running through all of us.
We lost ourselves and we found Her.