I mentioned that it was a busy period for me, and that part of my stress was the Women’s Day our church was holding in Paris (which was yesterday, by the way, appropriately set on the International Day for Women). I was responsible for the comic sketch for the event, and I’ve included the script at the bottom for your amusement.
But it was funny because it didn’t even register with me what the title meant. I was so void of inner peace, my eyes were bloodshot (allergies?), my body was weak and I had almost no voice left by the end of the weekend. (In addition to the Women’s Day, I also had to teach Saturday and Sunday morning, and I drove into Paris for a Message parenting event on Saturday night to showcase my books and didn’t get home until midnight. Today I’m taking it really easy and plan to get groceries, clean a little and take a nap.
The speakers were good. We had two people sharing their story – Catherine, who’s firstborn has autism, shared about her struggle to get him a proper education. She had to call ten schools just to find one who would take him, despite the supposed French law that all children have the right to be educated. I think it’s safe to say that France is behind America in this area. She also shared about how much she struggled with guilt (wondering if she had caused the problem), and how much their marriage went through a trial. The story has a happy ending, and she learned inner peace through this trial.
We also had Lesa Stringer, the former Canadian olympic champion for bobsled. She shared about being bitten by a dog when she was two, and how it left a permanent scar on her face. She thought that her life would be limited – that she would never get to model, for instance – but she still dreamed of going to the Olympics, and that dream did come true. Years later, she is now an olympic spokesperson and was recently also asked to model. Yes – there are no limitations where God is concerned.
Because this was a Women’s Day for church, the message was fundamentally spiritual. Fabienne talked about Galatians 5:22, and how “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.” Before a tree can bear fruit, it needs to build deep roots. But when the roots bury deep and can draw sufficient nourishment, then all sorts of beautiful fruit appears. Love, peace, patience, etc. When Fabienne told of her heartbreak in losing her brother to suicide – a heartbreak which I could intimately relate to – she shared about how the inner peace eventually won out over the anger and grief.
She said that inner peace looks like this. (Image below). A storm is raging, but is the guardian hiding away in the lighthouse? No. He’s got his hands in his pockets – probably whistling. (By the way, this image is for sale, but it’s a little out of my price range or I would buy it. Gorgeous, isn’t it?) The storms can rage, but we are unafraid. That is beautiful.
This week I still have the twitter pitch for my book, and I have my French test to become a citizen on Friday. My husband is crazy-busy with his work (working until midnight) and not as available as usual. And we’re waiting for documents to arrive for our loans and for my citizenship that we really need and have absolutely no control over … life is not super peaceful right now. But it could be worse. And I’m gonna be like that guy up there.
Below are the words to the skit we performed. My original text was much improved upon by the women acting the parts. And they frenchified the language too (I was lazy and used google translate, changing only the most glaring errors – they did the rest). So this only is a glimmer of the giggles they produced. I hope you enjoy it anyway.
The Sketch: “Bonjour Docteur”
A doctor is sitting behind a small table on the stage with another chair next to it. There are six chairs in the waiting room, and each one is filled with a patient waiting to be seen.
Doctor: Okay, first up.
Eugene (sits down and demands urgently). I want you to write a letter to my plastic surgeon saying I’m allowed to have more plastic surgery. I’ve had my eyes lifted. I increased five cup sizes here (points to chest), which they sucked right out of here (points to butt). But now – one side of my face is frozen, and I can only smile on this side. How much longer do you think this will last? Because I need to have another surgery scheduled.
(she sits down and takes out mirror) I’m still far from Monica
Doctor: Monica who?
Eugene: Bellucci! And Angelina
Doctor: Angelina who?
Eugene: (disgusted) Jolie! And Marilyn! (stands up and makes the Marilyn Monroe universal gesture).
Doctor: I’m not sure that’s such a good idea. Perhaps we should talk about why you feel this need to improve your outward appearance.
Eugene Are you serious? Well, yes … I can see why you might have given up hope. (Women in the waiting room are listening to everything and look outraged). But I still have hope of retaining my beauty. I must have it. I will have it.
(Looks in the mirror and notices a grey hair). (screams) Oh no! A grey hair! (Pulls out a box of Loréal hair dye and starts putting on the gloves and shaking the bottle).
Doctor I’m sorry, this might not be the best place for that.
Eugene Oh! Oh. You’re right. Where are the restrooms?
Doctor Can’t it wait until you get home?
Eugene And appear on the subway with a grey hair??!! If you have that letter ready, I’ll be on my way.
Doctor I have something better than a letter … (writes something)
Eugene (reads) Ezekiel 16:14 The splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign Lord.
Wait. There is a surgeon for splendor? Where I can I get some of that splendor surgery? (Walks out determined).
Doctor Who’s next? What can I do for you?
Danila: (Sitting down). I’m so sorry that complete nutcase insulted you in that way. She really has some major issues. Okay. So I’m here because I would like to get some help for my kid.
Doctor: What seems to be the problem?
Danila: (Pause) My kid is stupid.
Doctor: Oookay. Uh, why do you think that?
Danila: Well, first of all, he didn’t walk until he was almost 20 months. Can you believe that? And now, he’s 4 years old and he still wears diapers at night. And he doesn’t know his letters yet. I mean, I try and go through them with him, but he just stares at me and picks his nose. At this rate, he’s never going to get elected president!
Doctor: He’s only four. I think you’re maybe a little hard on him.
Danila: No! No I am sure I am not. I do everything I can to make sure he is perfect. I sit next to him. I watch his every move. I correct every single he does to make sure he’s growing up properly. And what happens? He has completely stopped talking! He doesn’t say a word! He just sits there without moving. Stupidly.
Doctor: You might be over-thinking the situation, Madame. Kids need room to grow and make mistakes. Take a look at this. (Writes)
Danila: Mark 10:14 Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.
Except my kid wouldn’t go. He would just sit there. Stupidly. (Shakes head and walks off).
Doctor: (Breathes deeply). Next!
Ann: Did you hear that woman? She’s going to ruin her kid. Ruin him, I tell you. I don’t know why she’s so panicky over what sounds like a perfectly normal kid to me.
(Pulls out calculator). How much is this visit going to cost me? Because I’ve already spent 4,30€ just for the subway ride, and I got a blister in my shoes from walking too far to get here and I had to pay 6,70€ for a box of bandaids …
Doctor: You seem to be very worried about money.
Ann: Well wouldn’t you be worried with a husband like mine? I gave him a grocery list, calculated to the last centime. Did he follow the list? Of course not! He got three things that were not on the list. Do you know what that does to our food budget for the month? Do you?
Ann: And look, look here. (shows ledger notebook) I track everything. Everything! Does he even know what we’re spending every month? Does he even care?
Doctor: Well, do you have a savings plan? You know, for a rainy day?
Ann: We have (and here she lists all the French saving plans possible) un livret A, un livret de développement durable, un livret d’épargne populaire, un compte épargne logement, un plan épargne logement, un plan d’épargne retraite populaire, un compte à terme, un livret jeune …
Doctor: (Surprised, because it means a savings plan for kids) Un livret jeune ?
Ann: Who cares about age? One can never save enough!
Doctor: Well, I think if you have a savings account and … do you have insurance ?
Ann: Of course we have insurance. It costs a fortune, but you never know. (Lists all the insurance plans there are in France). Assurance vie, assurance décès, assurance maladie, assurance automobile, assurance habitat, assurance incendies, assurance vols, assurance vieillesse, assurance retraite, assurance annulation…
Doctor: Assurance annulation ? Do you have plans to travel?
Ann: Maybe, Maybe. I haven’t calculated all the expenses.
Doctor: Alright. I have the best insurance of all. Here. Let me write you a prescription.
Ann: (reading) Matthew 6:24-25 Do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.
You must not be a very good doctor. I’m not really worried about what I eat or drink. I just need to make sure I have enough money to buy food!
Doctor: (sighs) Alright, who’s next?
Jennie: Oh, she’s so lucky to have health insurance. We’ve been rejected from three different insurance companies because of supposed “abuse.”
(Leans in) By the way, what kind of doctor are you? Are you, like, a real doctor? Because I’ve had this pain in my side for the last week. It’s on the left side – you know, where the heart is … and I think I’m dying. And I can’t die yet!
Doctor: No? … why not?
Jennie: I have to lose weight first. (Sees the doctor’s incomprehension). Or they won’t be able to carry the casket!
Doctor: (Hides smile for the first time).
Jennie: I can’t ask my regular doctor if I am dying. I had to get rid her because she was too beautiful. I mean, I can’t let my husband to go see her. (Looks critically at the doctor). You should do just fine.
Anyway. When the pain comes over me I get a shortness of breath, and I feel these spasms come over me. My great-aunt died because she choked on a chicken bone. Do you think a chicken bone is lodged in my throat without my knowing it? (gets very close and opens mouth wide)
And sometimes my eyelid flutters. I read on Web MD that this could indicate a stroke. I have my cell phone on automatic speed dial for SOS in case I should feel the first signs of a stroke coming on. The only thing is … it keeps accidentally dialing the number when I put the phone in my purse, and they ended up blocking my number so I won’t bother them anymore. And now I’m out in the world all alone with no insurance and no access to the firemen!
Doctor: I’m going to give you a prescription that will help. She writes a few words on a pad.
Jennie: (Reading) Matthew 6:27 Who of you, by worrying can add a single hour to his life? You mean I can’t even add a single hour?
(Wails loudly) OH MY GOD I’M GOING TO DIE! (She rushes off.)
Doctor: Uh … who’s next?
Sabrina: Oh my gosh it’s about time! I have been waiting forever while that psycho talked your ear off, and it’s not as if I have nothing to do! Blah blah blah pain in my side blah blah blah.
Doctor: Yes, but you! Why are you here?
Sabrina: (whispers) I’m afraid to fall in love.
Doctor: (loudly) You’re afraid to fall in love?
Sabrina: Shhh! No. Well, you know it’s just that the entire male race cannot be trusted. They’re after just one thing. (Hisses). SEX! And when they get it? They’re out of there so fast they leave skid marks! Not one of them can be trusted. Not one.
Doctor: That’s a rather blanket statement to make …
Sabrina: And then … they don’t seem to like me? I mean they are an undeserving race as a whole. I try to tell them what to do. I tell them how they can improve – you know, to be a real man! I tell them how to cut their hair, how to get a better job, how to sit up at the table. But they never ask me out on a second date. I’m going to die an old maid!
Doctor: Perhaps instead of trying to improve them, you could get to be their friend just the way they are.
Sabrina: (Stutters) And risk accidentally falling in love with them while they’re still unfinished? What if the hair in their ears starts to grow long? I’ll have to wash their socks for the rest of my life!
Doctor: (Writes) Take this.
Sabrina: (Reading) 1 Peter 3:1-2 Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.
But … I’m not married yet. (throws the paper and stalks off)
Alberte: (Mutters under her breath). Yes and if you continue that way, you might never be. Next!
Marie-Jo: (Looks around). Has this place been decontaminated? I noticed that there’s no security cameras and anyone can slip through. Any lunatic. Do you realize how fragile we all are? At any minute a meteor can come hurtling through the sky and smash us all to smithereens. We’re hanging on by the slimmest thread!
Doctor: I see that you are upset and worried about many things.
Marie-Jo: Well yeah! I cross my threshold three times each time I want to go outside. I go out. I go in. Did I turn off the gas? I go out. I go in. Did I turn off the water? I go out. I go in. Did I leave my keys hanging on the door?
And I wear gloves even when it’s 40° out. Every ten steps I look up in the sky for falling objects, but it’s still not enough. It could all be over in an instant.
Doctor: (Looks at watch). I’m sorry, I’m just about out of time and I see that the list can go on to infinity. Let me give you this prescription to meditate on for the ride home. (Writes something).
Marie-Jo: (Reading) Psalm 112:7 A righteous man will have no fear of bad news.
(Doctor gets up from behind the desk and puts an arm around MJ but – afraid of germs, she shrugs her off). (In a loud voice) How can we avoid fearing the worst in this cruel and chaotic world? (rushes off)
Doctor: (addresses crowd) It seems there is an epidemic of worry around here. We’re going to need a large vaccine of inner peace.