|Rublev, The Hospitality of Abraham|
It was a pilgrimage of sorts: Avignon, Congénies, Bassy, Lons-le-Saunier. At each stop friends welcomed me into their homes, shared their meals with me, took me sighteeing, gave me a room to sleep in...even let me take a refreshing dip in their pool.
I shared their living space and their lives for a few days, even trying to make myself useful when I could, setting the table or peeling vegetables, but mostly feeling inept and useless. Marie-France keeps a little vegetable patch and the Quaker House at Congénies has a sumptuous garden, while I've got to be the most horticulturally illiterate person in the world, not knowing one plant or tree from another. Like the lilies of the field that neither toil nor spin, I neither grow nor harvest ...nor sew for that matter! Overcoming my self-consciousness, however, I let my friends in, listening as they told me all about about their lives, their families, their neighborhood, their concerns. I left my familiar habits and haunts behind and didn't miss them at all, letting myself become absorbed into my hosts' daily routine.
I went food shopping at les Halles in Avignon and in the outdoor marché at Pont-de-Vaux...bought fresh brioches for Susan's girls at the boulangerie in Congénies...and cleaned sorrel freshly picked from Marie-France's garden. Laurent showed me his drawings and Daniel played his bouzouki for me.
The sounds of late-night revelry kept me awake in Avignon, and sunshine poured through my bedroom window in Congénies.
The pilgrimage was inward too, I let friends enter some hidden recesses that I didn't know existed in my heart. The transformation may not be dramatic, but I'm sure it is enduring.