Poisson d’Avril

Only in France do you need to make a quick fish. Today is poisson d’avril, directly translated it means “fish of April” but in English we would just refer to it as April fool’s day. Here children make little paper fish and try to sneakily hook or tape those fish onto other people’s back. This morning when I went to the kitchen for some tea and saw little Irène, one of the three children I live with, carefully cutting out a fish, I knew I needed to get going in the fish department. Studying would have to wait a while. There were fish to be caught and given. Not five minutes after I had settled at my desk, there was a low-placed knock on my door. Irène “snuck in” giggling as she taped a fish to me and thought it was hilarious when I returned the favour with a painted purple fish of my own. 

Lately life has been a lot. Between the coronavirus and some extremely sad personal news, there hasn’t been much levity. There’s a poem called “Heavy” by Mary Oliver that I’ve been thinking about lately. She writes about an imaginary Daniel in the lions’ den and the lesson he taught her saying, 


It’s not the weight you carry

but how you carry it –

books, bricks, grief –

it’s all in the way

you embrace it, balance it, carry it

when you cannot, and would not,

put it down.


She goes on to remark that startled laughter comes out as she admires the kind things of the world because though things are indeed heavy, that doesn’t negate the good or mean that there aren’t “roses in the wind” both beautiful and troubled that should be noticed. Sometimes I fill my brain with all the bad news- ill friends, cancer, corona, ice rinks turned to morgues- that everything seems dark, but this isn’t seeing the whole picture, and it isn't a good way to carry weighty things. I have many things to be thankful for not the least of which is being in France and there is a wondrous world to “admire, admire, admire.” There are many things to be thankful for, the great and the fishy, and even though my heart feels heavy, I’m joining Daniel, Oliver's imaged one and the one whose words are recorded in the Old Testament. Like Daniel, I am praising the living God who endures forever. Today, I am also thanking God for painted fish. We spent a little time at my desk, and I taught Irène how to use watercolour pencils and water pens. We just made some painted fish together. Not only was it a lot of silly, light fun, but it was a good reminder that I am very blessed.