Charles de Gaulle- Étoile
Bonjour! It was wonderful to be back in France this spring where I was assisting with a study abroad program and re-engaging with all things French!
There’s much inspiration to share and I’d like to start writing some posts in French- but I will start here with one small lesson en anglais. Riding the Paris Metro is complex but intuitive.
One day, I was bustling off by metro to meet our group with some snacks and to convey some logistics. This metro journey required 2 or 3 transfers. Often, transfers mean hasty exits off the metro, swimming through a determined crowd of commuters, scaling and descending several flights of stairs all while finding the next right line. There I was at the Charles De Gaulle-Étoile station.
The metro stopped, I stepped to the door to exit and confidently lifted the lever to release the doors. But nothing- the doors didn’t open and the people on the other side of the doors stood waiting. I grew more and more frantic knowing that the train would momentarily depart- “Why wouldn’t they open?” I tried again and again. I was trying to blend in- to act cool, but clearly in spite of my best efforts it wasn’t working. And yet, gently a woman tapped me on the arm and pointed to the other side of the car where the doors were open and the other passengers had exited. I laughed, turned, and followed the others out of the train.
As I walked on to find the next line, I had such a striking image of me so stubbornly trying to exit the car while everyone filed effortlessly out the other direction mad. There had to be a deeper meaning to this. It seems that sometimes we are so intent, so focused, and driven to prove ourselves that we find ourselves backed into a corner- without a next step. Simply turning from our self-involved plan we see another solution- God’s plan or view on Life with a big “L” = divine!
The woman’s gentleness to indicate the open doors helped me not to feel embarrassed or self-criticizing. That reminds me of Christ Jesus- perpetually pointing out what’s right and healing so that people can see that they aren’t trapped.
Here’s an example from the Gospel of John: “And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,” John 9:1
In this story the disciples had a very narrow scope on this situation of the blind man- the only options to explain his blindness were: A. the man had sinned or B. his parents had sinned.
Jesus turns it all upside down and says, “neither” or in contemporary language- “none of the above!” Jesus points out that everyone involved is innocent. Jesus didn’t heal by dealing with the human story. Instead, he reminded everyone what God saw about them.
The following quote from Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy supports this idea of turning from a limited perspective to God’s embrace to the view of infinite possibilities.
“The sharp experiences of belief in the supposititious life of matter, as well as our disappointments and ceaseless suffering woes, turn us like tired children to the arms of divine Love. Then we begin to learn Life in divine Science. Without this process of weaning, ‘Canst thou by searching find out God?”
So whatever the “sharp experiences,” suffering, or rat race that you might find yourself in, remember you’re not trapped because that’s not what God sees of Himself/Herself. We are God’s self-expression. Giving up the “my will be done” attitude is not such a bad thing and it’s as simple as turning to God and knowing that you are innocent that opens new views. Listen to the gentle friends or Christly promptings that you receive even when you are in a foreign experience. Ultimately, we must turn from human limitations to God.