Holiday greetings to everyone -- I'm sure you're doing last minute shopping or putting those final touches on that carefully crafted note to Santa. Instead of the typical Holiday/Non-denominational-type post, I'm taking a moment to ponder a bit of spirituality, as one is often inspired to do around Christmastime.

I'm the least religious of anyone, I'm the first to admit it. I'm not fortunate to possess the faith that so many others seem to keep. But around the holidays, that convergence of mind and spirit seems to be a little easier to consider. I was reminded of the power of spirituality when we were in Northern France, in the city of Strasbourg, visiting their Notre Dame Cathedral. The nice thing about visiting Europe is the impressive collection of great architecture and, of course, cathedrals. It's the only time I don't feel weird about entering a church -- in this instance, it's all academic, right?

There's something to be said about Gothic cathedrals -- they weren't kidding when they intended it to be an inspiring monument to the glory of the heavens. When you enter, even though you know to be respectfully quiet in a sacred place, I also think it's because your breath is literally taken from you. Maybe none of us can ever truly know God or Heaven, but the human interpretation through architecture is quite stunning. I was awed and humbled by this impossibly beautiful place. Strasbourg's Notre Dame Cathedral is immensely grand, yet with a spiritual intimacy that makes you feel like if you were to whisper to God, the message would somehow reach the Almighty's ear. You're reminded that there are so many unknown things in this universe, but to marvel in the wonderment and not be afraid. 

I may not be a believer in God or Heaven, but I believe in people. And so I lit a candle for those people, for the ones I love. For the souls who are no longer with us, and those I can still hold close to me. I think of my recent visit to Notre Dame Cathedral on Christmas, not for the religious reasons, but for my own Faith in the people with me, and for whatever Faith they have in me. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone.

Jaunty Fine Print: Photography by Denise Sakaki

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