If mornings in Paris are my favourite, then Sunday mornings in Paris are sublime. Empty streets, no bubbling roar of the motorcycle engine, just you as the city dips her toes in the sunshine. This is where I found myself, in the 2nd arrondissement, one February day. Only this morning was perhaps the opposite of sublime, unless a cloak of loneliness somehow elicits bonheur. This was hardly month two of la belle France, and I was beginning to feel the despair of the gloomy clouds and lack of community.
On this particular morning, I was walking to a new (to me) church, having decided that the previous one I had been “trying out” resembled too much a rock concert, and the sea of people every Sunday guaranteed that you’d never find your seat mate from the week prior, no matter how much you liked them. This is how I ended up cautiously approaching a chattering group standing outside an office building, where I timidly asked if this was church. Yes, they greeted me. It was. And that is how I met Gwen.
If you’ve heard that you’ll never find introverts in the centre of a crowded room, you are darn right, in my case. Although this church, which I now consider my “home,” is a fraction of the behemoth I had previously attended, the tiny room was still brimming with people who all seemed to know each other. Gwen kind of saved me that day, inviting me to sit next to her. This is an extraordinary gift, because it gave me, someone who never knows her “place” in a group, a save space to be.
Since then, Gwen has become such a lovely friend to me. I’m always learning something new every time I see her. She challenges me to approach and to think about Jesus in new ways. And, Gwen also loves to eat. That’s definitely someone I can get along with!
As I’ve gotten to know Gwen better, I’ve also learned that she can be extremely funny. These pictures, to mark a special birthday, where a testament to her fun, joyful, hilarious self. She took me to a park that I’d never have visited otherwise, Domaine de Saint Cloud. It sits on the western side of Paris, and if you’re reading this, here’s the scoop: there’s a delicious panoramic view of Paris: Montmartre, Eiffel Tower, Pantheon, Montparnasse Tower (which is, in my opinion, a blot on society). It’s filled equally with lush grass and clusters of trees, a small chateau and cobble walkways. We lay in the grass, jumped, danced, laughed, ran. It was full of spontaneity and a celebration of life! Happy birthday, Gwen!