I sit in the brasserie cum café at the corner of rue Lecourbe and bvd Garibaldi , traffic is busy as usual. I am sipping some safe tea (safe tea is simple basic tea I can ask for anywhere confident that it will be decent; tea is not a French thing, there are few places in Paris where I can be assured of getting a memorable cup), my lunch partner has left for a quick appointment at the Indian embassy and my afternoon meeting starts in one hour. Time to kill, time to sit looking and thinking, watching people go by and wondering, wondering what their story is.
A man walks in sporting a multicoloured cape and dark sunglasses with longish black hair. The waiter comes back in after smoking his cigarette outside in the sun, a girl walks briskly by still sporting a leather jacket (it’s that mid season when you never quite know if you can afford to bare your arms without catching a cold), three thin women in their early sixties, smart but casually dressed speak animatedly, two thirty something business types, in dark suits, stroll along the opposite pavement, a woman sits outside sipping coffee and smoking, an empty stroller in front of her, I wonder, where is the baby?
A biker, a young girl and her mother; the tea is surprisingly good. The employee wheels out two massive green bins spilling over with cartons, a grey haired black woman in a wheelchair steers herself deftly by, a little grey poodle held on a leash by a plainly dressed blond haired woman makes its way across the street before stopping to ease itself on the traffic light by boulevard Pasteur; the cars continue to stream by, all carrying sundry individuals about the business of the day.
The pretty young woman behind me finishes her lunch and produces a child who had been safely hidden I do not know where, her accent sounds affected; I strain to see another child being wheeled by outside by daddy, just curiosity really, I suspect the little one will be cute, Daddy is white and Mummy Asian; I love biracial, just a personal thing. A little woman crosses the street munching her lunch, it reminds me that had no desert; the little raisin and nut cake in the Unesco cafeteria may not look like much but it is quite a treat. Perhaps it will be kind to my waistline.
All snapshots of varied individuals, one second of their lives, (one nanosecond?) and the rest remains unseen and unknown. Who is that young man standing away from the cash dispenser while the girl in jeans takes money out? I do not and most likely will never know. But none of these lives stands ignored of One.
Our paths have crossed, they have gone their way carrying with them their tale, their pain, their joy,their prayers, their hopes, unknown to me. Yet to any of these I can confidently say, there is One who knows you, He knows your name, He knows your story, He knows your stuff. He sees the tears shed in secret and hears the pealing laughter. He knows every unspoken thought and every hidden circumstance.
Of each one of these, strangers in the day, casually brushing against me for one moment and they’re gone, He is aware, each hair He sees. And there have been those times when I have captured that nanosecond, spoken to one of these many lives that flit across mine daily, and given them a portion of their story as breathed out by God, and they have marvelled, and so have I.
And as I think on these things, as I often do, I am left with no choice but to praise.