I took on Paris again on the Sunday and had a completely different experience to what I had on the Saturday.
I went to meet a French girl I met online (that’s the only way to make friends out here without talking to ‘strangers’ – has no logic, I know!) and despite not being religious myself, I agreed to go along to church with her before we had lunch.
Having not gone to church since the age of 11 (except for christenings) I didn’t really know what to expect, particularly as I most certainly hadn’t visited a French church before.
When we arrived, I found that the church was in fact a theatre and was used during the week for workshops and performances (obviously).
It was absolutely crammed full of people – of which my friend seemed to know the majority – and I was introduced to a new person approximately every ten seconds.
As we gathered in the main area, we found a seat, and just as I went to sit down, my friend grabbed my hand and pulled me to the front near the stage.
It looked ominously like a dance floor.
Having stood there, probably looking both frightened and confused, suddenly a band and a group of people entered the stage.
They then, proceeded to sing in a fashion which actually reminded me very much of a mix of Kelly Clarkson and Glee whilst the crowd jumped and sang along.
Obviously the lyrics were centred around religion and worshiping their god, but I have to admit, that as surreal as it was, I couldn’t say that the music was bad.
It was strangely catchy, and considering I am very much agnostic, I was surprised to find myself rather moved because I was in awe of the people that surrounded me.
They shut out everything and everyone, they did not care if they were singing out of tune or jumping or waving their hands in an amusing way – they were absolutely and totally devoted to worshiping their god.
I couldn’t help but respect that.
After concluding the mini concert, there were sermons, which I admit I did find rather lengthy and boring but again, I could see how transfixed everyone else was and I think this is the moment when I truly understood religion.
I could see that to them, religion is not just a concept and that it is a way of life which they devote themselves to fully.
Admittedly as I looked across the audience to see younger people, a question did cross my mind. Had they chosen religion because they truly believe in it or because they have been inaugurated into it by their family members?
In a sense, I almost envied these people. They believe that even in the darkest times, they still have hope and they feel that they have answers to some of the biggest questions of mankind.
It must be reassuring to believe so fully that someone is looking over them.
Nevertheless, I still do not believe in such a thing, so I still find myself in between being an atheist and an agnostic.
I believe that everything happens for a reason and that there can’t just be nothing when we die – but that is all I am certain of.
Anyhow, we all went out to lunch and I met friends of my friend and attempted to chat in French to them.
They were really good and nice people and I would definitely not hesitate to meet up with them again.
After I left and headed back to Versailles, me and another friend decided to meet for a drink.
We got chatting to some French guys too, who weirdly enough had studied in England close to where we both live. The annoying thing however was that we didn’t get to practice our French (AKA the whole point of our conversation) as they spoke perfect English.
Oh well. It kept us amused before we went back to hers to sit watching netflix.
The next morning, she cooked us a really good lunch as we had picked up her youngest child from school.
Getting her to eat was difficult.
She kept getting distracted and I believe she sat at the table ‘eating’ for almost an hour.
This was a new experience for me – my kids eat the second they have food placed in front of them. I normally haven’t even had time to get a drink and sit down before they ask to leave the table.
It is always strange thinking that I could have ended up with a different family, a different house and different friends.
I’m glad to have met the people I have – I can’t tell you how vital it is to make friends out here – and I’ve made friends which I know I will keep in touch with.