In France, residents live and laugh with uncertainty for the future

The headline of this blog post summarizes the Guardian news article I am attaching.

As the article states, French writer Albert Camus writes of individuals and their “ability to forget.”

It was disconcerting to walk around Paris and regularly encounter a team of four soldiers, with weapons at the ready. Paris remains on high alert due to terrorism concerns, along with other sections of the country. I witnessed an uncanny display of dissonance that will likely stay with me forever. A baby-faced soldier on patrol with three others suddenly stopped walking. They were on duty circling the perimeter of Notre Dame Cathedral.

He gingerly stepped over a low fence in the garden in front of the Cathedral. On this sun-drenched day, on display were bountiful, colorful roses. He stooped down, and seemingly from thin air, pulled out a set of shears, snipped off a rose, and dropped it into a bag on his hip. Flowers for a loved one? Perhaps. A fragrance-laden reminder of the beauty of the place he loved, but was now reduced to protecting with rifles? Perhaps.

We tourists giggled. Our anxious looks at the soldiers armed with rifles, were temporarily replaced with a human connection. A young man, not much older than my own 21-year-old son would be forever imprinted by the vigilance he must endure scanning strange faces, seeking an indication of a possible threat before it materializes. Relaxing only when off duty. If, then. For just a moment, he and his fellow soldiers were able to relax while on duty.

I like to think our spontaneous giggles were joined in the air with prayers for France’s future.

Photograph: Pascal Rossignol, Reuters