Our hotel couldn’t let us into our room until 2:00 PM, but when we arrived at 10:00 AM they allowed us to check in and leave our bags with them.
Despite the restful sleep on the flight over, I was by now pretty tired. I eyed what appeared to be a coffee machine near the door in the tiny lobby, and made some gesture toward the attractive young woman who was helping the man at the desk.
She kindly came to the machine and made me a truly delicious little cup, the first of many kind but potent infusions of energy into a weary body on a demanding trip.
I saw this small courtesy as a gift from God, and thanked both him and his French handmaiden immediately. I may have even have said, “Merci” to her.
(Digression: I am not – anymore - a coffee addict. I try to allow myself this intoxicating beverage only twice a week – the Thursday morning men’s breakfast at the Texas Grill, where they serve a freshly-ground brew obtained from South America, and Sunday morning, when I grind my own beans for something to get myself to church alert enough to listen to the sermon.
(I once said at the men’s breakfast, “If God didn’t want us to drink coffee, he would not have made mornings,” but our pastor, an Old Testament scholar, replied, “God made morning before he made coffee.” There goes my main theological rationale for being so dependent on a stimulant.)
Meanwhile, back in Paris, we eagerly set out for our first excursion, one of several that Dori had carefully planned for us.
But first – breakfast! By now, the meal they served on the plane before we landed seemed long ago and far away. The hotel staff had directed us to a café just down the street and near the Metro. We found a table outside and thoroughly enjoyed watching Paris in the morning. Our waiter turned out to be quite the charming host, welcoming people in several different languages with flair and efficiency.
One of my fears before going to France was that I would be forced to eat death-dealing white bread. Sure enough, the croissant and baguette that we were quickly served had no healthy ingredients, so I was going to have to “fast” from my usual whole-grain diet.
The five-minute walk to the café had depleted the effects of the minuscule draft of coffee in the hotel, so I ordered another cup, which was equally tasty, to help me process the baguette.
Now I experienced the first of many rebukes to my anti-French prejudice. This bread was so good that I forgot its base origin. No wonder we saw so many Parisians scurrying by with a baguette or two tucked under their arms. Warm, flavorful, enhanced with fruit jam, and substantial, with a crunchy crust and chewy interior, it both filled my stomach and satisfied my appetite.
Already, within a half an hour, God had shown me another little “mercy” along the way. More would come.