Saturday, November 25, 2006

From faces to names

You're never going to believe it, but that shifting multitude of faces and feet that roll past us like rivers every time we get on the metro, those are real people. I guess I've had my suspicions all along. I think of the scarved woman who sits apart, hand cupped for any falling change at the exit on my last stop of the day. She's pretty singular. Or the little voice piping up in exasperated French over the rumble of the train and murmur of cell phone conversations: "Maman, mais, NON!" It's hard to miss the fact that there's a real little boy in the midst of all that anonymity. Or the fairly frequent occurrence of a couple in a passionate embrace on the platform, like an oblivious island. Yet, too often, we let our eyes glaze over in boredom or self-centeredness. And we miss a hundred encounters with potential kindred spirits.

We are thankful that some opportunities have not passed us by. I'll give you an example. In the beginning, we told ourselves that there were (hypothetically) "lots of" musicians in Paris for Karl to meet. In everyday life, however, it isn't as easy to track down individuals that are ready to invest time and energy. Still, as of this week, there are about three or so such persons who have faces, names...even instruments. They come to our apartment to practice. Sometimes they stay for tea or dinner. Real, live people, with aspirations and appetites. I like that.

Again, there was the supposition that my colleagues from work would be probably be somewhat easy to get along with on a daily basis. But who could have guessed that they would become such fast friends? Not only that, but that we would be able to recreate a homey, scrumptious Thanksgiving dinner together, complete with turkey, cranberries, stuffing, pumpkin pie, and wild rice.* Of course, it is not a very French thing to do with your weekend. But because we have been such glad recipients of other cultures since we touched down here, we were thrilled to share a distinctively American holiday with people from several other countries (see John, the happy Australian at left). There was truly a spirit of thankfulness afoot, as we shared stories and pie, and recipes and pie, and American history with more pie...

Ouf. Yeah. Still kinda stuffed.

Finally, there are our dear friends from church. It's been three weeks since we accepted Thomas and Conni's invitation to their place for pasta, but it feels like we've known this circle of friends for months, maybe years. Just days after meeting them, we received an email with contact info which read: you are so new in this city that you have to have some contacts that can help you if you need or if it's only to be not the whole time alone. It almost moved me to tears, it was so practical and loving. The best part is that we can worship alongside these dear ones, praying and studying our Bibles together. My wise mother reminded me that I shouldn't be so surprised, as we had prayed to happen upon such a group of like-minded people. But so many new friends! Whether they be fellow musicians, fellow scholars and teachers, or fellow Christians - we are rich.

Add to this, our loved ones at home whom we miss dearly. It was you who first taught us friendship, so we would be able to recognize the real thing in the wider world. For this we are most thankful.

"But since we were torn away from you...for a short time, in person not in heart, we [endeavor] the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face." (I Thess. 2:17)

A la prochaine! (Till next time!)

* Thanks, Pam! You're the best! : )


Mel Arroz said...

Ah! Friends & Fellowship! :-)

Rejoicing with you and giving thanks for His numerous blessings in our daily Journey.....

tri-mama said...

We missed you guys running on Tday-but it's so good to see all the rich fellowship you have met with in France. Thanks to God for his goodness towards us.

robbie said...

How wonderfully blessed you are to be able to put faces on France, and feet and hands on friendship. God is good indeed and we are thankful for His goodness to us, His undeserving creatures, yet by His grace, His children. May the good Lord continue to unite you with more of His people! Miss you, too, my dearest daughter and son-in-law! Mom/Robbie