Surprised by Joy

Surprised by Joy

While I pondered weighty matters, Dori encountered a Chinese woman who was taking a photo of three Caucasians – a mother and two daughters, they seemed to be. Suddenly, they leapt into the air, arms flung upward, and twirled around in their long, flowing maxi-dresses, with a united shout of pure glee. I could almost imagine sylvan nymphs frolicking in the forest. One must assume that they had planned this photo event, complete with the appropriate attire, long before leaving home for romantic Paris.

Now the Chinese woman wanted her picture snapped, and Dori obliged, surprising her by speaking Chinese. As the happy trio walked by me, I said, “That was wonderful! You made my day!” They responded cheerily. I think they were glad that someone was there to notice them.

The sun was almost at its apogee, the long flight and loss of sleep were starting to take their toll, and we wanted to eat lunch and get back to our hotel in time for a nap before going to the Eiffel Tower, so we re-entered the depths below the busy avenues to find the right Metro train. Dori had read about a cute little hole-in-the wall authentic restaurant in Rick Steve’s Best of France that seemed to be more or less on our way. We found the train route on the map and followed the signs toward its platform.

We had no idea how far away it would be. As we trudged along, increasingly weary and hungry, I began to think that we were, in effect, walking to lunch. The long underground corridors stretched on for what seemed to be interminable distances, but there was no turning back. For the first – but not the last – time in France, the fatigue I had feared before leaving home started to dampen my spirits. Discouragement set in, dispelling the happy feelings of less than thirty minutes previously. Dori, who hadn’t slept at all on the flight, felt even worse than I did.

God knows what we need, and provides it at just the right time.

Suddenly, I heard a sound that I had, without really knowing it, hoped to encounter in Paris.

In 1962 I had spent almost a week in Paris on a tour with twenty-four women, with a man as our guide. (That is another story, about which you can read in my autobiography, Mercy All the Way. You can find it at “Books” on  As part of the package, we spent an evening at a cabaret on the Left Bank. I shall never forget the thrill and joy of the live musical performance to which we were treated that night. I suppose that somewhere in my subconscious lay the dream that the joy I experienced for two brief hours would also be waiting for me in Paris.

Walking as fast as our tired legs could carry us, we came upon a group of men singing and playing right there in the bowels of the Metro. I don’t (at the moment) know who they were; perhaps a cabaret or theatre group. For a few moments, however, their vigorous, happy music lifted my spirits. I only wished I had stopped to buy one of the CDs they had for sale.

After some searching, I found a brief clip of them on YouTube. To hear twenty-one seconds of their exhilarating sound, go to I guarantee you’ll love these guys!

We trudged on for about fifteen more weary minutes before finally reaching our train, but that momentary thrill energized my heart and lifted my spirits the entire way.