Finding Hidden Light

DSC04645Even when I take a break from news and social media, I’m still immersed in the realities of the world, just by walking around my neighborhood.

This picture was taken on a chilly late October afternoon. I wasn’t able to ascertain if the two people sleeping on a grating were migrants or crack addicts, but I was struck by the fact that a kind soul had left them fresh bread and fruit. This is a constant in my area: people’s concern for the less fortunate, even when it’s challenging.

At a local town hall meeting this fall to address the consequences of drug trafficking on our streets, local residents and shop owners were concerned about being accosted by hostile beggars,  dealers occupying their entrances and parking facilities, addicts lighting up crack pipes along the sidewalks in broad daylight, sleeping in our hallways and using them for toilets, the effect on businesses and children walking to and from school in this atmosphere… but also worried about these human beings and their welfare. Police and town council members were present at the meeting, but also associations creating safe houses for poly-addicts to get sterile syringes, spend the night indoors, get medical attention and a chance at starting over. Amazing. The police explained that by law, addiction is considered an illness and when someone is picked up for drug trafficking, they are given shelter and counseling by the court system…

In this vein, here’s a quote from an interview with Rachel Naomi Remen, a story told to her by her grandfather:

“This is the story of the birthday of the world. In the beginning, there was only the holy darkness, the Ein Sof, the source of life. Then, in the course of history, at a moment in time, this world, the world of a thousand thousand things, emerged from the heart of the holy darkness as a great ray of light. And then, perhaps because this is a Jewish story, there was an accident. [laughs] And the vessels containing the light of the world, the wholeness of the world, broke. And the wholeness in the world, the light of the world, was scattered into a thousand thousand fragments of light. And they fell into all events and all people, where they remain deeply hidden until this very day.

Now, according to my grandfather, the whole human race is a response to this accident. We are here because we are born with the capacity to find the hidden light in all events and all people; to lift it up and make it visible once again and, thereby, to restore the inate wholeness of the world. This is a very important story for our times — that we heal the world one heart at a time. This task is called “tikkun olam” in Hebrew, “restoring the world.”  

http://onbeing.org/programs/rachel-naomi-remen-the-difference-between-fixing-and-healing-nov2018/

Always looking for hidden light…

xxxxxx Aliss

Happy Thanksgiving from Paris

A favorite shot of Pavillon des Canaux, Paris 19…dsc03044

There is much to be thankful for:

“Gratitude to Mother Earth, sailing through night and day–
and to her soil: rich, rare and sweet
in our minds so be it.
 
Gratitude to Plants, the sun-facing light-changing leaf
and fine root hairs: standing still through wind 
and rain; their dance is in the flowing spiral grain
in our minds so be it.
 
Gratitude to Air, bearing the soaring Swift and the silent
Owl at dawn. Breath of our song
clear spirit breeze
in our minds so be it.
 
Gratitude to Wild Beings, our brothers, teaching secrets,
freedoms and ways; who share with us their milk;
self- complete, brave, and aware
in our minds so be it.
 
Gratitude to Water: clouds, lakes, rivers, glaciers;
holding or releasing; streaming through all
all bodies salty seas
in our minds so be it.
 
Gratitude to the Sun: blinding pulsing light through 
trunks of trees, through mists, warming caves where
bears and snakes sleep–he who wakes us–
in our minds so be it.
 
Gratitude to the Great Sky
who holds billions of stars–and goes yet beyond that–
beyond all powers, and thoughts
and yet is within us–
Grandfather Space
The Mind is his Wife.
 
so be it.”
 
(after a Mohawk prayer)
– by Gary Snyder

Can a tree say “F*ck Off”?

DSC04562

This is a public service announcement:

Someone near and dear to me (who shall not be named to protect her privacy) recently learned that she traded her end-of-summer jetlag for a Parisian version of Lyme’s disease. As unlikely as that sounds, her bloodwork clearly shows antibodies to multiple strains of Lyme’s bacteria present in Europe, with no exposure to the sole strain known in the US.

The only green space she frequented at the end of August was the Buttes Chaumont park near where she lives. She went there to lie on the grass, walk barefoot on the ground, and spend time with her palms on a beautiful, tall tree (which shall remain anonymous to avoid reprisals), thinking this city version of “Forest Bathing” would help reset her circadian rhythms.

A few days after her last visit to the park, she noticed what seemed to be a large and very itchy mosquito bite on her chest, which began to swell, burn, and spread over the next few days. None of the usual remedies helped. Since there have been reports of tiger mosquitoes carrying Dengue fever and Chikungunya in the Paris area recently, she thought it best to see her French doctor, who thought she was being a hypochondriac. “Can I get a blood test just in case, to be sure?” she insisted. “No, Madame, it won’t show anything,” he laughed. “What about Lyme’s disease?” she asked. “But there is no tick,” he shrugged.

About ten days later she got a splitting headache, but thought it was the rosé wine she drank at a party. Then she started having sharp pains from the middle of her back to her left wrist and thought she had pinched a nerve in a vertebra during her workout. She went to see a noted osteopath, who said the pain would subside over the next few days. It didn’t. When it moved down into her hips, she realized she had allowed herself to be bullied by her doctor.

Cutting to the chase, she managed to get a prescription for the appropriate blood work, tested positive for Lyme’s, and went on Doxyclycline for the next few weeks. The doctor apologized profusely and didn’t make her pay for the consultation.

Luckily, she knows several people in the US who have made a full recovery in similar circumstances. Still, she could have avoided a lot of pain and worry if she had prevailed upon the doctor in the first place. In his defence, no tick was ever found and the rash did not resemble a typical bull’s eye. She did not check herself carefully after being outside because she didn’t know there were ticks in the city.

In addition to her physical symptoms, there was a psychological shock. She says she feels like she’s been broken up with by a loved one. Her favorite green space gave her Lyme’s disease. Was it the lawns or did her favorite tree tell her to “F*ck Off”? In its defence, so many people are touching it now, its thick protective bark is wearing away at the base of its trunk. Is global warming spreading Lyme’s, or is this a long due declaration of independence aimed at obtrusive human beings? Or both?

Moral of the story: Alas, Lyme’s disease has come to this northern European capital. Be careful, check yourself and your kids after time in the park, maybe give the trees some space. It’s October, temperatures are falling, but not all ticks are dormant in winter. Better safe than sorry?

More Zings

DSC04596How to boost energy as summer turns to fall?

Escape to the ocean or nearest beautiful body of water for a vivifying dose of horizon, air sand, and water. If you’re in Paris, the sea is only 2 or so hours away. This location is near Boulogne sur Mer, it’s called Equihen-Plage. There’s a glamping area with every type of housing you can image, plus swimming pool and wind carting on the beach.

http://www.camping-equihen-plage.fr/fr

Nice seafood restaurants including La Brise:

http://la-brise.lafourchette.rest/en_GB/

and Le Bouquet:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g2223826-d2221918-Reviews-Le_Bouquet-Equihen_Plage_Pas_de_Calais_Hauts_de_France.html

And if you can’t leave Paris, how about a massage?

Luxurious? Dulcenae:

http://www.dulcenae.fr

Or laid back?

Find the Yves Rocher Institut in your neighborhood and ask for a one hour “soin relaxant aux huiles essentielles” = relaxing treatment with essential oils, unbeatable price, 52€ for one hour…

http://www.yves-rocher.fr/tout-sur-les-magasins/ile-de-france/paris/paris-gare-st-lazare-sncf/S-FRYROC784

To be continued! xxxxx Aliss

PS My son stayed at the camping ground mentioned above, my husband and I stayed at a BnB just next door, where there was no Wifi. I had almost 48 hours of digital detox! Can’t recommend it highly enough!

Need Some Zing for the Re-entry?

DSC04588I swore I would not let La Rentrée get to me this year, but here we are and here we go again. Almost none of the things I’m dealing with are life-threatening. I’m not in the path of a hurricane or a typhoon, not in a flood or a landslide. In a way it’s even more frustrating and demotivating being preoccupied by the unsolvable while trying to rev up for another long school year and hopefully, one’s own projects… Maybe that’s why I’m in a state of confused inertia, wanting to step on the gas with one foot on the brake? In no particular order: my sweet neighborhood that I couldn’t wait to get back to is all torn up for some mysterious underground repairs, to the point where it’s difficult to cross the street, scaffolding is being hammered noisily in place for the city’s building resurfacing program, there are activity schedules to set arrange and meetings to sit through, medical appointments, giant mosquito bites, re-adjusting to small shared urban spaces, drug dealers returning after many years when we all thought they were gone for good…apparently preying on the migrants (result: one death and several stabbings, danger late at night for us and our kids…)

Soooooo! I take joy where I find it:

Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes!

With a drizzle of top grade olive oil and salt… or a fancier mandala version with buffala mozzarella, arugula and fresh basil:DSC04564

Ratatouille:

DSC04573

Using the leftovers for a ratatouille savory tarte:DSC04581

My recipe:

Leftover ratatouille
I Chavrou (Chavrie in the US)
I fresh goat cheese log, Sainte-Maure de Touraine if you can
Parmesan, grated, can go in filling or on top as you prefer, adds tangy “umami” 🙂 also thickens
3 Eggs
Herbes de provence, salt, pepper
Tbs flour optional
I pie crust, unsweetened
Blend Chavrou and eggs, add to slightly strained ratatouille in salad bowl, stir well (shouldn’t be too soupy). Depending on how firm you want it, you can use just yolks, whole eggs or both. I use whole ones. Some people put in flour to firm it up, too. Season. Grease bottom of deep pie plate, position pie crust, pinch edges for decor 🙂
Pour in ratatouille mixture, decorate with slices of goat log, making sure pieces are moistened with filling mixture so they don’t burn. Sprinkle with parmesan and paprika if desired.
Bake at 350-ish F (180° C) until cheese is golden brown and filling is firm, usually 45-50 minutes? Have to keep an eye on it to be sure. If the cheese looks done but the filling isn’t firm enough, cover lightly with aluminum foil and return to oven.
PS some people use gruyère or mozzarella for the topping 🙂
Enjoy!
More zings to come…
xxxxx Love Aliss

Back in Quiet August Paris

DSC04556Trying this to ease jetlag… Flat on my back in the grass, soles and palms facing down. The Buttes Chaumont park is calm but not empty: couples laughing on blankets, old people chatting on benches, moms feeding babies, dads and grandmas walking toddlers, someone playing the flute, classical music piping from a puppet theater hidden in the bushes, outdoor cafés shaded with bright parasols, a film shoot, people taking pictures at the waterfall…

How ironic to spend more time outdoors here in the city than on vacation in the back country of upstate New York…But then, the weather is less extreme here… bees, butterflies, birds…You can walk right out your front door and find green spaces to keep walking for hours, no need to drive somewhere for a hike…

To be continued xxxxx Aliss