FRENCH. I love the language, the lilt, the sheer musicality, the cadence, the rise and fall of the phrases, the slight pouting of the lips as it forms the various syllables, that slight rolling “r” and, of course, the music. From Debussy to Carla Bruni (okay, she’s half Italian) - everything sounds better in French. Even a menu. I distinctly remember wanting to tell a serious boyfriend in high school “I love you” but it had to be in French.
I duly found the translation “Je t’aime”, had it inscribed on a medallion with a chain and voila! I sometimes wonder what happened to that first love token. He eventually married a classmate and friend who had been witness to our teenage angst and love. Ah, young love – but I don’t think I would’ve made a good farmer’s wife.
I believe that is why I so desperately wanted to learn Latin. My subconscious would’ve told me it’s a good basis for a Romanesque language. I did try Intro French at university but was already carrying a double major, Music and Afrikaans. And believe me, being a Music Major takes a lot of time. So it was not to be, at least, not then. Some years later I had a fling with the Alliance Française and the Audio Visual Method but no, I could only learn the hard way.
Fast forward and as an adult living in Belgium, I went back to school. Twice a week I joined the early morning Belgian commuters to attend the equivalent of a community college in Rhode Saint Genèse. For three hours at a time I sweated and cursed and concentrated (no English spoken) and two (or was it three?) years later I came away fairly fluent. The fact that we lived in a French-speaking community helped tremendously. It took a long time to realize that those nifty “helper” words that exist in English (think would, could, should), did not exist in French. Instead there was a verb that had to be conjugated. I promptly fell in love with French grammar, still am.
I left Belgium in 1990. So how to keep up with this language I love so much? I do not read novels in French, too hard (heck, I even find reading in English hard sometimes), I’m always battling to understand that conjugated verb form. I go off and find a dictionary and the day is gone as I immerse myself once more into verbs! Instead I joined firstname.lastname@example.org, Info.Chrétienne.com, and finally a French Devotional e-mail group, “Un Jour Une Prière.” Every day Guillaume sends a short blog with a prayer and a list of things to pray for. This morning it caught my attention as it was about silence and people suffering from “Acouphenes.”
Out came the French-English dictionary. It meant “Tinnitus.” I wasn’t even sure what that meant so off I went to the Web MD.
Tinnitus (pronounced ti-ni-tis), or ringing in the ears, is the sensation of hearing ringing, buzzing, hissing, chirping, whistling, or other sounds. The noise can be intermittent or continuous, and can vary in loudness.
Tinnitus (Ringing in the Ears) Causes and Definition - WebMD
(A bit of trivia. The word tinnitus comes from the Latin tinnire which means to “ring.” Latin again….)
I cannot imagine the horror of constant sound in my ears. My world is largely a silent one. We have a TV on our boat (it sits on the floor behind the couch, never been plugged in); we have no background music playing; I write a lot, words are silent; I need solitude, hence my forays into the Gulf with the Blue Goose; pelicans are eerily quiet but when they get going it’s anything from a croak to a squeak; what I thought was a loon turned out to be a neotropic cormorant and it makes a low croaking, squawking sound. But these are the sounds of nature, as is the wind and the waves.
I can only think when it’s quiet. I need, no, I crave silence. And off my mind went again and one of my favorite hymns surfaced. “I will come to you in the silence.” God speaks in a small quiet voice. Learn to be quiet and have quiet. Leave the cacophony that is the world behind and set aside a time when you can just listen, and wait…. Kings 19:12 - And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. (KJV)
C.S Lewis said – “How little people know who think that holiness is dull…when one meets the real thing it’s irresistible.”
Your personal P.O.P.P’s are waiting for you. Read: POCKETS OF PERFECT PEACE.
Cyber hugs and Blessings.