A Bus Mistake and an Unexpected Day

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An Unexpected Day May 26, 2014
So today was a rainy day, and museums were open – a no brainer. One of the museum exhibits we’d highlighted on our to-do list was the Paris 1900 exhibit at the “Petit Palais,” a building from the 1898 Paris World’s Fair (which was also the source of the Eiffel Tower. ) We got on our handy dandy bus route maps and figured out how to get there, and off we went.
After a while, as I was watching bus stops go by and calculating how far it still was to the stop at which we needed to get off to change buses, I suddenly realized – Oops! We were on the wrong bus! Hmmmm!!! On the bus, we couldn’t use our cell phones to figure out how to change the route. So, remembering that the bus we were on went through the courtyard of the Louvre, I suggested we get off there, and go visit the Louvre shop instead of trying to get to the Petit Palais. I say the “Louvre shop” because the museum itself is so intensely crowded — a constantly shifting sea of humans — that it seems unimaginable to spend enough time in the mob to actually try to see anything. But last year, we visited the Louvre shop, found a section where they were selling old etchings, and we each found a reasonably priced old original etching to bring home as a treasured souvenir. We hoped we could repeat that lucky find. Unfortunately, it was not to be! In the interim, they have totally redone the graphics shop, in the process dramatically reducing the range of works offered – dumbing it down dramatically. I asked the fellow behind the counter what they had done, and he said, well they had reduced the number of works “a little” (like about 90%!). He wouldn’t cop to more than that. Bummer!
We left the shop to cross once again the mob scene in the entry foyer, and what we had dreaded happened. I turned around, and Nancy was not behind me. Oh, dear!! Our phones aren’t working here. How to communicate to find each other again?? I stood still for a while, and looked around carefully. Finally, a gap opened up in the crowd, and I could see her, also standing still, about 40 feet away. It was good that we each knew to stop and wait if separated!
Then, reunited, we strolled down the street and found a café that was a bit more plush than our usual type of hangout. The food turned out to be exceptional, and we enjoyed a full two hour Parisian lunch.
As we were watching the people passing outside the café, it occurred to me that Paris has become a bit like Disney World. The tour buses pass by incessantly. And the pedestrians are mostly composed of groups of 30 to 60 tourists being led around by a guide holding aloft some agreed upon item – a huge artificial flower, a brightly colored umbrella, or perhaps a sign of some sort, or a flag. They don’t dare get separated, so the group members huddle together and move en masse. It’s always possible to tell a group –in addition to the swiftly moving leader, all their members have something in common that makes them stand out from the French public — youth, nationality, language, ethnic appearance, type of clothing – and there are all kinds of groups. I’m glad that on this trip we’ve mostly been able to keep a distance from the most crowded tourist haunts, although even so, the human environment on the streets and in the cafes is multi-ethnic and polyglot. Only the bus riders are fairly consistently French.
Finally, refreshed after our mega-lunch, we left the café and walked the two blocks to the Tuileries Gardens, which abut the Louvre. We hadn’t really planned to go to the Tuileries, but I’m so glad we were right next door because of our bus mistake this morning. It was more beautiful than I could ever have imagined, and it was a spectacular way to end our day in the 1st Arondissement.
Coming back home, we actually figured out — without online access — a way to take a bus from where we were to a point where we could connect with a bus that would take us back home. We were proud of ourselves.

About Rev. Rosemary Hyde, Ph.D.

I am a grandmother, a classical homeopath, a mystical poet, and an interfaith minister. I also have a large, enduring place in my heart for Paris. I first spent time in Paris in 1961, as a Fulbright scholar. I remained in France for three years, living also in Toulouse and in Nancy. I have revisited France and Paris multiple times since then, and have come to know central Paris reasonably well. I grew up in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, where there were many Franco-Americans, and their language fascinated me. I was fortunate in 6th grade, when my family moved, to find myself in a Catholic French speaking girls' school, where I had the wonderful fortune of becoming bilingual. It still feeds my soul deeply, to visit Paris, speak French, and reconnect with the little French girl in me. I am serving presently as co-minister at Unity Center of Peace in Chapel Hill, NC. I give talks one or two Sundays a month -- please go to the website, www.unitychapelhill.org, and sign up for the weekly e-news to learn what's going on -- special events, seasonal interfaith ceremonies, and Sunday themes and talks. My vision for the Unity Chapel Hill ministry and for myself is to become a loving, uniting presence in the lives of all those who cross paths with us. That's all there is, really -- loving presence. And so it is. Amen. My goal as a minister is to add richness to life for those who resonate to more than one religious tradition or to none -- those with mixed religions as well as the unchurched, untempled, and unmosqued. All of us, whatever our cultural allegiances, hunger for and need support in finding the transcendent joy that's ours to find in this earthly life. All of us need and want to celebrate beautifully the great and small milemarker moments. All of us crave the beauty of prayer as an expression of our participation in universal love. All of us wish to learn a greater vision, to see our lives opening to the Divine. All of us desire deeply to find serenity and peace that lasts no matter what happens today and tomorrow. This is the meaning of Transcendessence. We find the essence of spirit and transcend the narrow constraints of our bodies and egos. Join us today by subscribing, so you won't miss a single poem, message, prayer, or meditation.
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