Tuesday, January 17, 2006
It's raining here in Paris. And at 8:30 am, it was only beginning to get light. I was walking the neighborhood, after mass at St. Nicholas, and my heart went out to those mothers and fathers, scurrying their children towards school, in the cold wet of the morning.
I am staying in the Latin Quarter, where the tourists don't often venture because here they speak French and live like they are Francillians, showing very little interest in catering to the Amricans with French/English menus, signs, speaking staff. Fine by me. I came here to be among the people of the most beautiful city in the world, while tasting, smelling, feeling, seeing and absorbing the most beautiful city in the world. Not for a week's vacation in Adults Only Disneyland Paris.
There were the usual suspects at mass: old, gray women. I see them at Mass in Italy, in the U.K., in Canada, in Hawaii, in the U.S. I don't think old, gray women are any more devotional or spiritual than the mothers with their children I saw this morning--they just have more time. And I always really cherish the time I spend these faithful, even though it's only 30 minutes or so and I never see any of them again. Ever. Still, it's a rich moment in my life and one I anticipate and savor.
One thing that sets the old, gray French women apart from the other women I have known at mass is that they kneel with impunity. They do not hoist themselves in and out of the pews with their hands. These women bow their heads, fold their hands, and go up and down on their knees as if they were powered by pneumatic lifts. How is that? First, they all probably weigh within 15 pounds of what they did when their wore their wedding dress to church. Second, they are urban women, which means they walk more and ride less. Third, French women eat butter & chocolate & wine daily, but in those famous, small French portions and eat no, if any, processed food. They are babes, all. I had the distinct pleasure of being mistaken for a French woman by a French man, no less, in the Detroit airport. Absolutely jumpstarted my time in Paris with a nuclear thrill.
I'm off to walk the river. You can take the girl out of Idaho, but not . . . .