Saturday, October 30, 2010
Take the metro to Place Monge, cross the little square, and few side streets over you will find the mosque. You will come to its entrance, in front of which a woman is begging. On the other side, at 39, rue Geoffroy Saint Hilaire, you will find the entrance to the tea room, restaurant, and hammam, which, if you haven’t already experienced somewhere in the Arabic world, you need!!!
I met a friend there for lunch (see photos on Facebook), and we checked the prices and protocol for the hammam (meaning, how naked did we have to get?! We’ve gotten caught more than once in compromising situations in other European spas!!!)
As it turned out, the hammam prices proved prohibitive, but lunch was affordable and copious, with sparrows flying through the air, picking up crumbs. Couscous and tajine, with some mint tea, and we were stuffed and happy! No dessert, because they didn’t ask, and we were too full anyway, in spite of a tantalizing platter of baklava and other honey-gooey goodies passing around under our noses.
A stroll around the 5th and 6th arrondissements on the beautiful fall day did not negate talking about some of the hard issues my friend is up against, and how to survive emotionally in a spiritually barren landscape. I recognize the signs in all too many of my friends there, because I lived it too. There are no easy answers, just some good old heart-to-heart conversation, listening and empathizing, with the occasional kick in the butt! Working in France is often an isolating experience, and without connections and community, one is quickly overcome.
Back to her house for dinner with her husband, and more conversation on the arts. A flicker of light came back on in my friend’s eyes as we talked. One of her dreams is to write a novel, and she has been working on one for some time. I shared my happy news that I’m about to be published, after 7 years of work, and encouraged her to not give up. I left them both with a list of resources, both online and live, in Paris and not, in hopes that God would take it from there.
Take it he did! The next day, who should I happen to be sitting with, but a novelist, telling me of her writer’s group, and where and when they meet, and the upcoming November writing challenge they were going to participate in! I quickly scribbled down the info, asked if I could introduce her to my friend, and fired off an email on my return to the hotel. They are now connected, and I trust my friend will now have a community of writers to help her get out that novel that is in her, just waiting to get out.
I barely had time to digest my coucous…some answers to prayer move more quickly than others!!!