Monday, 16 May 2016
So here we are on the Fête de la Pentecôte in France; Pentecost in the UK and other English speaking countries.
'So what is it really about,' I said to Mark as we were doing the washing up.
'Er . . . it's when the Holy Spirit descended to the disciples the fiftieth day after Easter,' he said, and went to practice the cello.
I suppose I've always had this vague image of a 1920s silent film, man-covered-with-a-sheet, sort of apparition, just as I have of God being someone lounging comfortably in his sofa of clouds trimming his long, white beard occasionally.
But they are obviously (having done a bit of more serious research this morning) the same thing - God's spirit appearing to man; not in fact a ghost as such. Well, of course I knew this . . . but somehow I must have liked the idea of the ghost figure rather than beams of light, doves or feelings of exaltation.
So, to Youtube for an idea of what the Holy Ghost means to many people.
Press the play arrow and try not to move!
I don't suppose it's quite the same down in our small French town - a whiff of incense, people bowing seriously into their prayer books, a few reedy voices singing praises from dog-eared books and half an eye on the watch to make sure a trip to the local supermarket is possible before it shuts for the rest of the bank holiday - one of many days of public holiday observed in France - odd as a country which prides itself on laicité - the strict exclusion of religion from the secular affairs of state...