The Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris is one of the largest international airports in the world. According to Wikipedia, last year this airport handled 65,766,986 passengers and 497,763 aircraft movements, making it Europe’s second-busiest airport (after London Heathrow).

As in other large metropolitan airports, one can see travelers from all over the world wearing everything from spaghetti straps and shorts to winter parkas, saris, burkas and Hawaiian shirts. And lots of scarves of every color and texture—not just for ladies but also gentlemen wearing both street clothes and business suits.

And the shoes—oh my! On the streets in Italy (especially fashion-focused Milan) I was amazed at how nearly all the ladies wore high heels on the cobblestone sidewalks and seemed to be walking along as comfortably as if they were in Nikes like the tourists.

We saw every size and shape of person you can imagine, although in Italy very few were overweight. According to my husband’s Fitbit, we walked an average of 8-10 miles each day. Everyone seems to walk a lot in Europe.

We also saw every shade of skin and hair, including pink, purple and orange. And not just on teenagers. Middle-aged people were sporting all kinds of fascinating hair colors and styles.

Past messages still relevant

As we were standing in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican, I couldn’t help wondering about how all the history and art and architecture influences the people who live in Rome today. Is it just “interesting” to them, or does it have a spiritual impact on their daily lives? Being inside the churches we visited did not seem to me like a holy experience, but maybe that’s because I was a tourist and not a local resident.

Our guide told us before we entered the Sistine Chapel that the earlier popes did not live all the naked bodies portrayed there because in their minds that represented “the original sin.” The guide said that the painter Michelangelo was interested in reminding people that all humans are born into the world with nothing and we take nothing from the world when we die (hence no clothing).

I’m thankful that the God who created us all uniquely gives us the option to choose many things about our personal appearance—not only what we wear and how we do our hair, but also whether we will have piercings or tattoos.

As Christians, we are aiming to “do all to the glory of God”, whether in our choices of appearance, our words or our actions. (1 Cor. 10:31) Yet since God clearly values diversity among the people He created in His image, we also will be wise to appreciate and respect every human we encounter, whether they look in any way similar to us or not.

Rain did not deter us from climbing the towers of the Notre Dame Cathedral.

Rain did not deter us from climbing the towers of the Notre Dame Cathedral.