There's this guy- a french guy; he offered us a story. He lived in the States for a long time. He used to be a lawyer in Wall Street. 'Like in the movies', he says.
(I didn't know what movie he was refering to; I thought of The Devil's Advocate', or that one with Paul Newman, but his long hair and leather jacket would not fit any of those)
While he was there he made a lot of money; but money doesn't make you happy.
'That is lesson number one.'
his wide smile lighting his expression and his eyes analyzing the ceiling, looking for the right words.
So-not a lawyer anymore, he lives in Paris. 'Do you know why I am here today?'
On the other side of Smithfield Market there is St. Bartholomew's Hospital and Church.
Our french guy is a direct descendant of its founder and he is burried in that same church. (remember Four Weddings And A Funeral?- this church protagonized one of the weddings)
He traced his family tree all the way back until he found this amazing fact. After discovering this personal treasure, he flew to London (for a day) to find the church, the hospital and the burrial site of his great grandfather. He spent the morning there, listening to his own past talking to him through the stones of the tiny church; maybe forgetting questions he had, because he doesn't need the answers anymore. His heart is full like a balloon, while he sits there and experiences the most extraordinary feeling of connection and expanssion of inner space he has ever felt.
He then had a coffee having for company a little black notebook and a pen.
I wondered what he wrote there and if perhaps I could learn something by reading it.
After coffee, he had lunch, while telling us his story and his plan to go back again in the afternoon and 'listen' for a last time.
(My friend was a bit sceptic at first but then she commented on how better this story made her feel inside.)
'You know what the funny thing is?'
'When I was studying law, my best friend in school was a descendant of William Wallace'; he smiled.
As it happens, William Wallace was hanged in Smithfield (just across the Market), a few meters away from the hospital and the church.
Two best friends- their great grandparents saw the same piece of land before dying.
'Can you believe that?' 'It's amazing.'
'It makes you question what happens between a generation and the other- between a man and his great grandfather.' I said.
'I know, it's so mysterious
It's like a miracle; just being alive, it's such a miracle.' He said, still smiling.
'Life is beautiful', he continued... and it was like getting the promise of the premise for this story; the 'theme stated', the question to our most primal question: What are we here for?
It was as if he was saying: 'We are here to LIVE' Period.
We are here to experience it all, and open ourselves up to these things.
'Things happen to you when you are willing to see.'
'Maybe we will meet again'. he said in his goodbye, and he wished us to be happy and find our path.
And then he left, leaving a smile on our faces and all that energy floating in the room (Maybe William Wallace was there, maybe Rahere too, and St. Bartholomew; and maybe they were all him).
I met a french girl this morning, she asked for directions. I wondered why she was here...