Kish and I are in Quebec for a conference. It’s a very interesting city, particularly in the old section where we are staying. It is as if a portion of an old and charming European walled city had been lifted out of France or Luxembourg and plopped down in Canada, complete with crooked streets, pastel colored brick and stone buildings, outdoor cafes, and street performers.
Yesterday, as we we browsing through shops, I decided to take a break from the next shop down the street and instead visit the Eglise Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, which is one of the old churches in Quebec — and there I had one of those magical travel moments. The church itself is striking. There is a sharp contrast between its simple stone exterior and its extraordinary interior, which features cream and gold coloring, large paintings, an altar with a castle theme, and a wooden boat hanging from the ceiling that appears to be an exact miniature replica of a sailing ship, correct in every detail. It was a feast for the eyes.
What really made the moment special, however, was that as I entered a choir happened to be singing. It was a choir of mostly children and teenagers, with one or two adults thrown in. They sang with only an organ for accompaniment, and their voices were terrific. Kish joined me and we sat there, mesmerized by the scene and the music as they sang hymns and an Irish prayer set to music. The choir closed with a rollicking version of an old spiritual, When I Lay My Burden Down, and then everyone filed out of the church and the moment was over — but it is a moment that I will always remember.