It was pouring rain, and my hands were full as I stumbled into the room. The last thing on my mind was meeting and greeting the other writers at the wine-tasting reception. I plopped into the first free chair, muttering unpleasant things under my breath, when she looked up and smiled. I half-smiled back and looked away. I was leaving the city in less than five days and didn't have the energy or time to make a new friend.
The next afternoon, we ended up in the same small group, waiting outside the classroom for the teacher to arrive.
"Have you been to this workshop?" she asked. She was slight of frame and freckle-faced, and had the air of being both warm and cautious.
In better spirits today, I entered the conversation. "No, I actually had never heard of it till a few weeks before I arrived in Paris, but decided since I'd be here I might as well check it out."
"I heard about it from my writer's group in Geneva. It's supposed to be wonderful."
"Is that where you live?" I asked.
"No, I'm actually from Australia, but I've been doing research in Europe all summer."
"Oh, on what?"
"It might sound odd, but I'm fascinated with this Catholic saint named Therese of Lisieux. I'm writing my doctoral thesis on her."
It was the last thing I expected her to say as we stood amid poets, novelists, and memoir writers who had all come to Paris to attend the renowned workshop.
"Hi, I'm Ruby."
Ruby and I soon discovered our mutual interests in the art of spiritual direction, and our experiences within the Catholic Church. Then the teacher showed up and we vowed to try and continue our discussion before the week ended. We didn't see one another again till the last day. On impulse, we decided to skip that afternoon session for a long uninterrupted lunch ...1
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