I promise that I will start to write about my experience here, at least by the end of this month. I know that’s not a great or very specific promise, but I know myself and I’d rather make a promise I can keep, n’est-ce pas?
In the meantime, here’s a random reflection I had when I was in the bathroom (brushing my teeth..) sometime this weekend. I can’t remember exactly where it came from, except that I was thinking and feeling a mixture of stress/anxiety about adjusting to Paris, remembering a similar feeling that I had in Normandy last summer, remembering being a bit defensive about the value of my experience during that time because the OIP lady told me she wanted to cancel my internship for future students because it seemed like it had not been a valuable enough experience–I realize she meant in terms of learning real work skills and whatnot, but I couldn’t tell her enough how much I had grown and learned and lived and loved while I was there, purely by the grace of God!! I did beg her to keep it though. I believe that anyone who grows up in mainly big city environments needs to go out there and experience that kind of quiet, calm, peace, alone-ness, etc. A personal Walden kind of experience, I guess, except that for those of us who believe in Christ it’s also a deeply communal thing. Anyway, here’s what I wrote:
In Normandie I learned to breathe, to marvel, to love.. Being alive, and noticing life, in any form. To sit still and experience as if for the first time the sun, the rain, the trees and the skies and even the stink of the cows, the slight buzzing of the flies that swarmed around their eyes and swished alongside their tails–to simply exist in a moment, an hour, two, three, for days on end, unworried, unpressed for time. Never looking at my watch. The sun sets at ten. Singing in a house that looks empty but is full of spirit, and Spirit. Because all this beauty is his. And he gave it to us, gives it to us each day but we stare down at our wrists or phones or post-it-note schedules and shove our way on by, seldom ever thinking to pause. Be. Grateful, thankful to be who I am, right here, right now, beloved, perfected not by what I see in the mirror but what I am mirroring, and glad. This is peace. We should try it more often, maybe even once a day–it’s meant to be constant, I think, but I am perhaps more forgetful than most and it takes uprooting me from everything I think I know best to make me look up and see, and smile–at nothing, at myself, at Him, at everything. What wouldn’t I give to have unabashed joy? The price has already been paid.