Bliss: When did you last feel it? I am blissfully in love with a few precious people and things: my husband, my children, my family and some cherished friends, and everything French. Because of my French ancestry, I confidently chose French as my foreign language elective in high school. The first day of class was the first day I heard the French language. It sounded odd and completely foreign, yet the phrases flowed beautifully. I couldn't wait to learn more.
In my twenties, I studied abroad in France twice. The first semester was so amazing that I hesitated to return five years later, knowing I could never relive the same amazing experiences. Remarkably, my post-graduate year there was even better, thanks to an endearing host family and diverse friends. During that year, a French friend invited me to her parents' home for a weekend, a Japanese friend and I organized a lending library for our classmates, and I learned some belly dancing moves from a Jordanian friend. (Later I was able to visit that friend and her family back in Jordan.) None of these friendships could have taken place in English because few of the friends I made in France knew English well.
When I returned to America, I was hired to teach French to high school students, and later I invited an elderly Frenchman to show my students how to play the game of pétanque. When he visited my classroom, he gave me two poems he'd written in French. They speak about love and the rapid passing of time in life. It was a dear gift, and his French poems hold a special place in my heart. (I shared one of them here.)
My American husband and I met between my stays in France, and when I returned we discussed our marriage hopes and plans. I stipulated that he had to be willing to live in France because that's where my heart was. But seven years later, we're still here in America. Maybe someday we'll move to France for a sabbatical year or two, but it's obvious to me that my husband's life and ministry is here, and the impact he makes in his current circles shows me that this is where God wants him to be. So instead of living the expat life, I'm here loving France from a distance, but I pray there will a cross-Atlantic trip on the horizon every now and then.
And now that I'm a parent speaking French to my children, I find myself reflecting on the generosity of my French host family--how grateful I am for their humor, guidance, and dinner table conversations. They're the reason why my husband and I have hosted multiple exchange students ourselves. Endearingly, my host parents have joked about hosting my children someday, if my children choose to study in France as I did.
So you see, la langue française has woven beauty and richness into my life, and its joy has extended to my children and my students. More than a subject, more than a career, more than a parenting choice, French has brought meaning and bliss from a simple childhood curiosity about my origins.
What passion has added color to your life? What are the threads it has woven in your life story?