Saturday, November 5, 2011

Portraits: Madame M

I met her at our English conversation group. I wasn't really sure what to think of her at first. She was extremely quiet, and didn't say much unless someone spoke directly to her. But she sat there with eyes wide open and I could tell that she was drinking everything in. She watched me as much as I watched her, trying to figure me out too. Her wide, staring eyes, magnified even more so by her glasses, made me a little uncomfortable at first.

She had spent a good portion of her summer on a pilgrimage. I can't deny that I was impressed as she was telling us what all it entailed. They walked miles and miles every day for a several weeks, sometimes sleeping in tents, sometimes sleeping in hotels. I'm not sure I would ever undertake such a journey willingly, and this tiny woman who had to be in her late 60's did so gladly.

She wanted to improve her English, and I wanted to improve my French. So we set up a time to meet for our first language exchange. The sweet lady spent ten minutes giving me detailed instructions on how to get to her house, diagram included. And then she met me halfway to her house on the day of because she wanted to make sure I found it just fine.

I'll admit it was a little hard for me to concentrate that first day. I was distracted by her aqua green eyeshadow, electric blue mascara, and hot pink lipstick. All I remember thinking was, 'I thought French women wore muted colors!' But she was so excited to serve me coffee and some cookies that her mother had brought from Brittany.

I love this dear woman more every time I meet with her. She's always so sweet and thoughtful, and I can tell she has a big heart. I love the way she still can't say 'autumn' and 'call.' It's one of the funniest, most precious things I've ever heard. But she practices every week, and every week it's just a little bit better. She loves learning new things, and her childlike curiosity and habit of taking everything in is something that I'm constantly learning from.

We haven't spoken of religion, but I'm fairly certain she doesn't know Jesus. She lives in a culture that worships Mary as co-redemptress and tries to do as many good works as possible so as to spend less time in purgatory. I wonder if she knows that no amount of suffering or works can make her holy. I wonder if she knows that Jesus paid the cost for her and all she needs to do is look to Him as her Savior. I wonder if she knows what God has revealed in His Word, or if she simply relies on what the priest tells her every week. I wonder if she knows how much He loves her. I wonder if she knows that He wants her to repent and turn to Him. I wonder if she knows the Way.

I pray that I can tell her someday.

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