Who would have thought that snow in February would brighten a city, literally and figuratively? And yet, it did. And it does.
I write, listening to the snow being shoveled on the sidewalk below. I look out across the street, blanketed outlines of the pristine snow covered Mansard roofs through my windows, and I want to be outside! I want to play, slosh about and just breathe in the cold air! It is evocative weather, bringing out joyful responses from everyone around. This overwhelming need to be a child again sent my son and me into the streets, just walking, throwing snowballs and taking pictures. Looking local.
No, I have not gone crazy or suddenly simple, but I am reflecting on how such a little change can brighten the hearts here. For months, the austere weather has affected the smiles and attitudes of most people. Parisians I have spoken with have told me that this winter has been highly unusual and the bleakness is getting to everyone. The rain is too much. The joie de vie has been hibernating. They cannot wait until Spring appears. Listening to them, I know my disappointment with the weather is validated, but I don’t comment much, not wanting to appear the spoiled American. Plus, I can’t really converse THAT much in French yet.
But flakes dance and fall, the light in the sky shifts, and people are smiling! The locals are taking pictures all over the city. They are laughing together. The loud conversations on the metro are actually in French, not English, and the light-heartedness is contagious! It really feels like instant delectation, like joy is meant to be~Feeling your heart uplifted in witnessing others’ happiness.
Why would something so benign to winter be so sensational? It is reported that snow like this hasn’t happened in almost fifty years. Parisians don’t get this treat, and apparently in the past, when it did snow, it was fleeting. It isn’t that many got to stay at home (yet) because the buses and schools hadn’t been canceled at this point. I think it was merely a change. A little permutation in the daily grind, relieving the oppression of somber and bleak. And the fact that smiles are contagious spread this frosty excitement across the Île-de-France. Who wouldn’t giggle at the shop owners having a snowball fight across the alley from each other? Or smile at the older people looking in wonder as the sky rains pure, sparkley-white flakes?
Change. Different. Alteration. Perhaps it is that which puts things into perspective. We are having a little metamorphosis of our own here. Patrick married, starting his own family with his beautiful bride. Leaving two children in two different states as they find their way in the “real world.” Yes, they are grown, but as a mama, it pulls at my heart no matter their age. Coming to Paris, learning a new language and practicing half meal prep instead of doubling. Oh, and the homeschooling that was to be for a few weeks turned months on end…
But today is different! There is brightness! There is excitement, and not just from the streets in the City of Light but in our little flat in the seventeenth as well. Today, Liam started school again. He was up early, donning his brand new uniform , eating pain au chocolat off his “Special Day” plate, backpack ready by the door. He has been patiently (most days) waiting for this day to come, filling the void of school and friends left behind in California. It is hard to say who was more excited, Liam or his parents. Again, feeling joy because of someone else’s joy.
St. James wrote, “All good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change.” James 1:17 Perhaps it isn’t the change that I am seeing but instead His gifts more clearly illuminated? Maybe that is what is contagious?
The snow will melt, the sun will come out (so I am told!) and soon, spring will arrive. I imagine it will be welcomed with the enthusiasm and intoxication that the snowfall brought, although this excitement will wane long before that. But the beatific joy IS here, present, not dormant. Funny how it took some blurry snow to see clearly!