June 21. The longest day of the year. Someone in the course of your yesterday must have noticed this interesting little factoid, I'm sure, and briefly remarked on the marvelous length of a summer day. Perhaps, if you are from the upper Midwest, you even exchanged a little "yep" or two, just to seal the deal. Karl (from Minnesota) and Todd (from Ohio) are perfectly positioned - at a ninety-degree angle - for this sort of conversation.
"Yep. Sure stays light out for longer."
"Yep, sure does."
Well, Parisians do commemorate June 21st, but not in understated conversation about the obvious. Instead, they fill every one of those elongated hours with the most obvious pastime: music. The Fete de la Musique has been celebrated in France for the past 25 years, giving anyone with an iota of musical aspiration a chance to set up sound gear in the open air and play for Paris at large. And I do mean anyone. As we rode our bikes into the center of town to meet up with friends, we passed through layer after varied layer of sound. As soon as the metal band (rather stubbornly) faded away, we would be within earshot of a New Orleans-style brass band, which overlapped with the accordionist, who mingled rather comically with the drum jam further down the street. And so on. All night long...right down to the colorful Caribbean band fronted by the reincarnation of Carmen Miranda, who finally put down her maracas at 2:30 am, I think.
We spent a large share of the evening hanging around Genesis, which is the cultural center that belongs to our church. To everyone's surprise (including his wife's), Karl chose to sit back and enjoyed the show for the night, rather than jump in and participate. The woman playing the keys in the photo is Lorelei, who rocked the night away with her husband Ron on bass and a bunch of our other pals. It was most excellent, especially the strong dose of gospel that finished the set. Yep. We had people dancin' in the street, all amongst the roar of mopeds and police sirens that are inevitable on wilder nights in Paris. (Oh wait...that's every night.)
Well, as we took the party further afield, it became clear that the carnevalesque spirit was a bit more potent than usual. The guy at right who was practicing his parlor tricks for a delighted crowd, and (eventually) a group of disgruntled firefighters that made him put his toys away. This was at the youthful Place St.-Michel, which was littered with concert fliers and broken bottles, much to my chagrin when I had to bike home.
Yes, eventually even the best of parties lose their momentum, and there is a turning point when the majority of the crowd realizes how late it is, how much they have to go to the bathroom, how ill they feel, how hungry they are, etc. By about 2 pm, Paris was showing signs of feeling rather upset and betrayed by her pleasures, which we took as an indication to head home.
All of which makes me yearn for that happy day that will be the longest of all. That party will not end in police searches, swollen-eyed damsels, shifting shadows, and streets of broken glass. It will begin with the return of our King, who will come and make all things new. Even the bedraggled streets of Paris. Even those disheveled partygoers who have put their trust in Him. Even me.