My Thoughts on the Recent Attacks in Paris: Part I
Prologue: I did my student-teaching in Paris at Ecole Jeannine Manuel, a bilingual school with a multicultural community. Many of my students were Korean, so it was my job, as the student teacher, to help with their learning English as a second language.
I loved my students and I loved my job.
I loved my job but I didn’t love Paris.
I liked Paris. I didn’t love it.
Why? The reason, which was the same then as now, is that in my heart I am a small town girl. The big city noise made it hard to hear God, so whenever I had the chance, I left…for the peaceful idyllic charm of Chartres, for example, or for the country chateau of my friend and host family, or for a five-day silent Ignatian retreat.
I loved the opportunities and excitement of Paris. I didn’t, however, like the noise.
I didn’t like the crowds, the chaos, the risk…the din of the subway and its smell of urine…the man who took me out for lunch to talk about my teaching him English and then left the restaurant without paying the bill.
One never knows in a big city.
One never knows, frankly, period.
* * *
Fast forward to the present.
I’ve exchanged my Korean students for my Caucasian kids, but the love of teaching is still very much there. I’ve traded my sleeping room in the 16th arrondissement for a two-story, four-bedroom house in the suburbs.
My life is not without chaos or noise. On the contrary, there’s still plenty of both!
There is also, though, a small town peace that I’ve learned to foster…
…by pulling back from all the big city fears.
In this way, I am like the proud Parisians who boldly went out the same night as the attacks to bear the illuminated letters “NOT AFRAID.”
What do I have in common with them?
I don’t know, to be completely honest, but I do know what calms my fears on the darkest days.
I know what gives me unsurpassing peace.
…to be cont.