Red Brick Window (C) Kristin Espinasse
A red brick window in Rasteau (Vaucluse)

glossolalie (glosso-laly) noun, feminine

    : glossolalia (speaking in tongues)

Audio File

(...this feature is on holiday today, along with the rest of France... meantime, anyone care to translate the following example sentence, from Wikipedia? Thank you for sharing your interpretation in the comments box.)

Pour les chrétiens, la glossolalie correspond au « parler en langues », phénomène décrit dans les Actes des Apôtres..

A Day in a French Life...
by Kristin Espinasse

I was driving home from school the other day, windows rolled down in time to smell the sweet-scented genêt,* gigantic bouquets of which line the countryside in May, when the kids informed me there would be no school on Monday.

"Another French holiday, is it?"
The kids looked surprised until Max broke the silence:
"Mom, don't you know?"

Truth is, I didn't. But I had a hunch (given the stressed syllables in my son's reply, "don't YOU know?").

Yes, I had a swift suspicion... that the holiday-in-question had to do with religion. Like that, Sunday found me holed up in my room, flipping through a children's bible -- trying to figure out just which 3-day vacation we were observing this time.

That is how I learned about Pentecôte,* which, among other things, and depending on your religious upbringing, refers to the birth of the Church. This part is still unclear to me, as for the tongues, what a story! One I later shared with my husband:

"And the tongues descended from Heaven, like fire!" I informed him, relaying a passage from Acts as we sat at the dinner table. "...and landed on the apostles...who were then filled with the Holy Spirit":

...Des langues, semblables à des langues de feu, leur apparurent, séparées les unes des autres, et se posèrent sur chacun d'eux.*

"Do you think we are to take this literally?" I asked my husband, in a blind-leading-the-blind appeal (only three years ago did my Mom, after much thought--and a great deal of fretting--take Jean-Marc's hand into her own, and ask him to invite the Lord into his heart).

Presently, Jean-Marc looked doubtful.
"Well, I don't believe, for example, that..." and here, my husband listed, to my surprise, several of the stories that he thought should be taken metaphorically, including the marcher sur l'eau* episode. I listened, carefully, but put my foot down when he got to divine conception.

"That's just not possible," Jean-Marc declared.
"But isn't this the basis of belief? Faith?"

"And why is it that a virgin mother is so unfathomable to you? I mean, look at some of the phenomena that we've witnessed in our day."

"Par exemple?"* Jean-Marc questioned, and I was hoping he wouldn't.

Well, I didn't know, and so I shot off "cloning" and "the internet". Jean-Marc countered that such are "phenomena" explained by science and technology.

"Yes, but these things would have been unfathomable back then. Who's to say that what is unfathomable to us today, won't be an ordinary occurrence... light years away? There are things in life that we just cannot fathom!"

Jean-Marc responded simply, "What does 'fathom' mean?" and I wondered whether my husband was just trying to skirt the issue.

It occurred to me to return to science and to mathematics--the roll-of-the-dice kind--and so I brought up the avis* of two esteemed philosophers: William James and Blaise Pascal (Pascal's Wager). These two came to the conclusion that there was just no knowing.. so why not choose to believe, why not take a gamble? For what do we have to lose?  Why not bet on belief?

"And so I'm betting on God," I informed my husband, "and gambling on a Virgin Birth and, while I'm here, I'm wagering that walk on the water!" Why not?!

Literally, figuratively, smigurtively! When I think about how a scratched-together essay by one hopeful housewife will, by the click of a computer mouse--and in a matter of seconds--reach the four corners of the earth... (fast as "tongues descending like fire from heaven") then the great biblical miracles suddenly become a cinch to believe in. Amen.


Comments, corrections, and stories of your own are always welcome and appreciated.

*     *     *

UNCUT : Would you like to read the uncut version of today's essay?:

...Jean-Marc finally admitted that he believes in the big picture.... Dieu, that is.

"Well, then," I teased," isn't
that a bit surreal. Dieu? So if you believe in Dieu, the omnipotent creator, then why's it so difficult to believe in walking on water or a virgin birth?" I tried to cite science, technology... exponentiality--how what once seemed impossible to us, now is reality--but only got tangled up in topics and terms that are beyond my understanding... like the word "omnipotent"... in fact,  had I used the term correctly? No time to wonder... for these words filled my brain:

"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last."

Right. "And just what about the beginning of time?" I continued. "That, surely, is as unfathomable as a virgin birth! Reality had to begin somewhere -- only, from where did it start? (I wanted to add something about the chicken or the egg, but wasn't sure that the French used the same argument and, if so, would that be "le poulet ou l'oeuf?") 

There now... it seemed I was onto something (I know not what...) -- onto something, and in a bit too deep!

Thankfully, my husband looked at me, refreshingly. "Je ne sais pas, mon amour, mais c'était bien, cette conversation." * Well, after faith -- there's always hope!

~~~~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~~~~~~
le genêt (m)
= scottish broom; La Pentecôte (f) = Pentecost, Whit Sunday, Whitsun; (scripture translation from, Acts 2:3) = And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them; marcher sur l'eau = to walk on water; par exemple = for example; un avis (m) = opinion; je ne sais pas, mon amour, mais c'était bien, cette conversation = I don't know, my love, but it was good, this conversation

*     *     *
Three Random Words:
plain-pied = one-level, street-level, on the same level (house)
une quinte (f) = fifth (music); quinte (fencing); quint (cards)
    une quinte de toux = coughing fit
un espadon (m) = swordfish

A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety