There is a line in Casablanca where Richard Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) responds to Nazi interrogation. The Nazi asks – Are you one of those who left Paris at the time of the occupation? Blaine answers, It’s not particularly my beloved Paris but there seems to be no secret about that.
Although the greatest movie ever made, about this our protagonist is wrong. Paris is our beloved Paris as anyone who has been there can attest. It is one of those cities where all that life can be comes together – art, history, food, romance, light. It is the rare place which transcends its geography – say Paris, and the whole world knows where you are.
Perhaps this is why our city finds itself under attack. All that we find good in life is held by some to be the contrary. Freedom, expression, art, independence – the pursuit of life outside of lines narrowly drawn – is the Parisian ideal and a place the world needs.
At the conclusion of the movie, Richard Blaine tells Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman), We’ll always have Paris. The scene is too perfect to spoil so I will leave it to you to watch if you are out of the know. Leave it to say, it’s a call to remember a time when all at its best can be, and, in spite of the world, remembered.
This is what makes Paris our city. It is Bogart and Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Monet, Picasso and Phantom. And while its manifestations are inconsistent and at times imperfect, it is a freedom we need. We need a place to discover who we are and for many we revere that place is Paris.
Twice in the last ten months our Paris has been attacked with a savagery reserved for the most brutal and demonic. The slaughter of the innocent is vile in every time, from Matthew 2 onwards. In response, we rise. We want a life where all become who they can be. We want a life where each moves beyond convention. We need a place to push the limits of what life an be. This is Paris.
I see God calling us this way. Moses said to Pharaoh, Set my people free! – Exodus 9:1. Slavery is an option for none. Towards freedom we are called. Discover the gifts God has given you and pursue them. Or to say it another way…
Be everything you can, this is Paris.
(thank you for reading, please comment or share if you found Jesus in this)