I’ve been in France for a month today but it seems like a lot longer. Not that I haven’t enjoyed it, more because it has been jam packed full of challenges and adventures. I wrote at the beginning that I wasn’t brave, I’ve changed my mind, I am.
It is funny to plan an adventure, leave a few things to chance but shore up what you can in advance and then jump (into the unknown basically).
I know the French speak French, and I did give it a go before I left to make sure I could at least say where I was from and what I wanted, but they speak so fast, hahahaha, there is no keeping up without 5 years of experience I say. But they are patient, and kind when they know where I’m from, and as one woman said just an hour ago in a dress shop, we can communicate and threw her hands up – beautiful moment of human to human contact. This trip has been full of such moments alongside of the heartbreakingly lonely, but that’s life isn’t it?
Anyway, why do I now think I am brave?
Because I have done things I wouldn’t ordinarily do, but I’d be stuck this time if I didn’t. Things like buy a ticket at the station, go on a train and wonder if I’ll know when to get off, then run for a bus and hope it’s the right one, and get off to see a Facebook friend there to meet me at a cafe a little over an hour away. It took courage I can tell you, in a land full of tiny little laneways to get lost in.
Because I have walked the streets waiting to hear my inner voice guide me…. Argh it must be on mute and I’m being called to find my own way and that is so scary. To be without the inner voice that I’ve always relied on, is to find another part of me that is open to the challenge (but I am so not open to the challenges). And find things I have. Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but I like to find churches and sit in them, contemplate and feel the ghosts of the past.
Not all churches are welcoming places, no no no, I go out of some as quickly as I walk in. But more often than not, I find a welcome glow and I sit and find the answers to the problems I think I have – mostly why why why? hahahaha I laugh at myself a lot!
Bravery is walking the streets of an unknown city, a little scared (a big bit really) I will get lost, without the language to speak freely and bravery is doing it with gratitude and love of the day (even though most of the time I’m wondering why am I doing this). Fear gets in the way a lot!!
Today I found a church that lit up as I walked in and I didn’t even know the name of it, but it called me in for sure. I am not a Christian, I am a nothing who loves the solitude and peace one finds in any temple of any denomination and this one, took my breath away. It had love and life and candles were everywhere, and I turned and saw a statue of Padre Pio and oh, I was happy; his story is so interesting and full of challenges. Then Mary Magdalene at the feet of Jesus – yes!
Oh but I do find it very uncomfortable to see Jesus on the cross everywhere, as if that is the true message – ah but what do I know?
His message was love one another, not come into this church and watch me die over and over. Anyway, I sat for ages and didn’t ask why, I sat and sooked a little and answers came and I wept some more and then had to sit more so the eyes dried a little. I’m not sure the challenges will calm down or not, but I now know what the trip is about – it has been a personal camino – a huge undertaking and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
While there, I met a lovely French woman who was telling me all about the church until I finally got a few words in Je suis Australienne – ah – bonjour. We both love Padre Pio and Mary and we were able to tell each other that in the universal language of the hands.
I walked all the way around to go out and Francis of Assisi was there, waiting for me to see him, and I’d walked right past him on the way in. Such a joyful moment it was.
Ah, blessed and thankful for the bon journee that everyone offers me. Not a lot has gone right on the whole trip, which is hilarious because I am so particular with my planning. Woody Allen said ‘if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans’… oops I did!
Bravery is getting me there: I have found the courage to go out on my own and find my way on planes, trains, buses and walk into the unknown. I’ve been in some of the dodgiest places that I wouldn’t even go to in Australia, but still, courage takes us to the edge of the unknown then drops us off safely back home wherever that is…
I have a week left in France, I’m off to Uzes on Sunday – wish me luck, I need it, I told God where I was going… Guess I’ve given God a laugh or two over the past month (years!)
Oh and by the way, the French are the most stunning race – not all beautiful, but all attractive. People of all colours and seemingly no racism on the streets. They wont get out of your way, they will charge into you, but that’s just their way… I weave in and out of their way
Until next time
xx WendyJoy xx