today was quieter than yesterday, I think, but we still managed to stir up a ruckus. I’m actually in Victoriaville right now, staying with my good friends Geneviève and Craig – but let’s start from the beginning. The morning went slowly, with TV and breakfast being the main agenda items (along with shower and so on). While Nicole and I were visiting Guy yesterday, we mentioned we would be driving down to Warwick on our way down to Victoriaville, and Nicole invited Arlene (Guy’s wife) to come along. We picked her up today at about quarter past noon, a hot, sunny noonday under a gleaming blue sky. With a quick stopover at the Carrefour Jeunesse-Emploi to say hello to the staff (old friends of mine), we started on the way to Warwick. All the way down, Arlene (who arrived in Canada five months ago from Congo-Brazzaville) told us about life in the Congo, and the political situation there. Pretty shocking, to be sure. Nicole did most of the talking, while I sat in the back seat and prayed. Political conversations are always dicey and handling them in a way that well represents the Bahá’í teachings on the matter can be challenging. Hence, the prayers. Enh. We need ’em sometimes.
We got to Warwick around lunch time and stopped in at the Bahá’í coffee shop, La Brûlerie des Cantons. Jocelyne, co-owner and a devoted Bahá’í friend, took a few moments out of her busy workload to greet us warmly. She was pleasantly surprised to see me and asked all about what I was up to. In a few moments, though, she was back behind the counter, taking orders at the till from a steadily maintained queue of customers. Nicole, Arlene and I sat down for the lunch special – soup, sandwich and coffee. The conversation turned from political to spiritual (I don’t know how) and Arlene began asking about the Bahá’í Faith. She is a true seeker, and shared part of her spiritual search with us – to which Nicole, in particular, could easily relate. Apparently a family member first gave her a Bahá’í book to read in the Congo. We were both surprised when she began to tell us the story of how Bahá’u’lláh was imprisoned in the “Black Pit” in total darkness, chains binding His hands and feet – and how it was revealed to Him within this prison that He was the Best-Beloved of the worlds, the Manifestation of God for this Day. We went on to discuss various Bahá’í principles, and Jocelyne joined in with us again as the lunchtime queue dried up. I guess Forrest Gump was right. You never know what you’re gonna get.
After lunch, we said our goodbyes to Jocelyne (and Andréanne, her daughter, who returned to Warwick after finishing college to help with the family business) and moseyed on over to our next stop. Not before buying some coffee to take home, though. Anyway, after a short drive east of town, the stately Appalachian mountainside receded to reveal my old digs, Victoriaville, nestled in the foothills like a deer sleeping in a thicket, with the familiar old steel-and-neon cross stuck to the top of the mountain like a stamp of ecclesiastic approval. It was beauty itself to see the town again. Every time I come back to visit, I feel refreshed. I met up with Geneviève at her home, and we went to meet up with Craig, her husband, and frolic a bit in the renowned Frères du Sacré-Coeur orchards. After a bit of a mix-up (we waited for him in the wrong place), we finally did meet up and there were bemused smiles and hugs aplenty.
Geneviève is eight months pregnant. It’s my first time hanging around a pregnant woman for any extended period of time. It’s quite interesting. It certainly raises a lot of questions and makes me aware of what people can go through during this phase of their lives. I won’t expand too much on it (you probably don’t want to know anyway, and I need to get to bed), except to say that our stuffy, impersonal, business-is-business North American society does not seem to be very friendly to the pregnant woman’s plight.
We rounded out the evening putting Alex (Gen & Craig’s son) to bed; Craig and I said some prayers together, and we looked at some of the photos I had taken that day – for example, Craig and Alex taught me how to play cricket. I never thought I would understand cricket, but having an Australian expat and his son explain it to you does help somewhat.
Right now, I’m not quite sure what my next step will be. Geneviève and Craig are having new roofing put in on Saturday, a day I had planned to spend in Trois-Rivières. It’ll be a do-it-yourself job, and they need all the strong, able-bodied people they can get to make it happen. So now I’m considering staying in Victoriaville for Saturday, but I’m wondering where Trois-Rivières fits in. I’ll have to get in touch with Jeremy, my Bahá’í contact over there, to see how he feels about the whole thing – we’ve been coordinating this visit for almost a month, and I’d hate to see it fall apart. Anyway. I guess this is one of those times when prayer is needed. And reflection. For those of you who are keeping tabs on this little series, keep reading. More will be revealed.