Among My Favorite Photographs

Portrait of the Author | Bruges, West Flanders, Belgium

Bruges is a medieval walled city traversed by canals, the "Venice of the North". Maybe 120,000 residents, with a cathedral in the city center and a chocolate shoppe on every corner. The idea– if you are a chocoholic, as I am– is to buy just enough treats to get you to the next corner and we start the delicious selection process all over again.

I visited Bruges at Christmas. It was characteristically cold and wet. No one else was in town, just me. There is a huge square in the city center where I found a pub that has been in continuous operation for a thousand years. I said a thousand years, as in 1,000. Like, founded in the year 1000. McDonald's brags about how many burgers they've sold; I wonder how many beers this joint has drawn.

So I found this church along the way between chocolate shoppes and stopped to study this stained glass window. There was a ledge to prop myself up and lean back against the wall, admire the handiwork. The evening light lit the scene like a Rembrandt painting, from dark to light. As the photograph was being taken, I remember thinking how many people might've sat in this same spot over the past ten centuries and saw what I saw and felt what I felt. And in that forever moment I was at one with the place but unstuck in time; I made a mental note to return once spirit has left this body and can appear anywhere at the speed of thought.

How nice it is to sit here forever, I thought. A quiet corner, out of the way, in a Flemish church. Walking distance to a chocolate shoppe and the millennial bar. What more can a soul want?

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