Sunday, April 16, 2017

A bell, though . . .

My dad has introduced me to a lot of auditory things.  The music tends to be good, the spoken word often leaves something to be desired, but I'll always treasure this particular Easter thing.

A youtube vid that consists of the whole story is at the end, but for those who'd prefer an excerpted transcript, that's right here:

The story is of Easter coming up in an adult French class.  One student, a Moroccan woman, didn't know what Easter was and others tried to explain using the limited vocabulary and basic grammar they had managed to learn thus far.  After all attempts at explaining the religious aspects failed, the conversation moved to food and in particular to chocolate.

The speaker, David Sedaris, said the Easter Bunny brought chocolate.  Once it was established that he really did mean to say bunny, the part that I treasure begins:

The Morrcan rolled her eyes and the the teacher sadly shook her head as if this explained everything that was wrong with my country, “No, no,” she said. “Here in France the chocolate is brought by a big bell that flies in from Rome.”

I called for a time-out.  “But how do the bell know where you live?”

“Well,” she said, “how does a rabbit?”

It was a decent point, but at least a rabbit has eyes; that’s a start.  Rabbits move from place to place, while most bells can only go back and forth . . . and they can’t even do that on their own power.  On top of that, the Easter Bunny has character.   He’s someone you’d like to meet.   A bell has all the personality of a cast-iron skillet.   It’s like saying that come Christmas the magic dustpan flies in from the North Pole, led by eight flying cinder blocks.

Who wants to stay up all night so they can see a bell?  And why fly one in from Rome when they’ve got more bells than they know what do to with right there in Paris?  That’s the most implausible aspect of the whole story, as there’s no way the bells of France would allow a foreign worker to fly in and take their job.  That Roman bell would be lucky to get work cleaning up after a French bell’s dog.

And how does the bell hold the candy if it doesn't have any arms?  How does it get into your house without being heard?   It just didn't add up.

I suppose similar questions could be asked of the Easter Bunny; I just never thought of it that hard.

Nothing we said was of any help whatsoever to the Moroccan woman.  Clearly disgusted she just sat there, her lips positioned as if to spit.

I wondered then if, without the language barrier, my classmates and I could have done a better job making sense of Christianity, an idea that sounds pretty far-fetched to begin with.

In communicating any religious belief, the operative word is faith, a concept illustrated by our very presence in that classroom.  A concept illustrated by our very presence in that classroom.  If I could hope to one day carry on a fluent conversation, it was a relatively short leap to believing that a rabbit might visit my home in the middle of the night, leaving behind a handful of chocolate kisses and a carton of menthol cigarettes.  So why stop there?  If I could believe in myself, why not give other improbabilities the benefit of the doubt?

I told myself that despite her past behavior, my teacher was a kind and loving woman who had only my best interests at heart.  I accepted the idea that an omniscient God had cast me in his own image and that he watched over me and guided me from one place to the next.  The Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, and the countless miracles — my heart expanded to encompass all the wonders and possibilities of the universe.

A bell, though . . . that’s *&^%$# up.

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