Mangeoire: a most meaningful French word
To wish + Heureuse année, bonnes resolutions, and to get on one's nerves!

A Mystery: Diriger, benir, and the anonymous gift we received

The mysterious card we received in the mail and what was inside... in today's story.

TODAY'S WORDS: diriger & benir

        : to direct and to bless


De temps en temps, Dieu me dirige à envoyer quelques choses à un/des amis. Voilà. Que Dieu te benisse. (Anonymous) From time to time, God directs me to send something to a/some friends. There you have it. May God bless you.

ECOUTEZ - Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the example sentence: Download Diriger-benir

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Last month we received an anonymous letter in the mail--along with 50 euros in cash! The envelope came addressed to M et Mme JM Espinasse, in what looked to be French penmanship. (The sender, in writing our home number, had rounded the tail of the "9". We don't write like that back home in Arizona (unless we've spent time abroad and are smitten)--neither do we cross our 7s, as seen in the way the sender composed our zip code.)

This letter was not sent by an American. Or was it?

Looking at the billet I wondered, was it a donation? Was it even for me? No, the envelope had been addressed to both of us--Mr and Mrs--and yet...the end of the letter addresses only one of us as seen in the closing line which includes te (and not vous)....

Inside the card read:

De temps en temps, Dieu me dirige à envoyer quelques choses à un/des amis. Voilà. Que Dieu te benisse. (From time to time, God directs me to send something to a/some friends. There you have it. May God bless you.)


"It has to be for you," Jean-Marc insisted. "It's from one of your blog readers."

On the card was a photograph of an antique gown, its dusty rose silk intricately embroidered. My eyes combed the letter, the envelope (from the Musée des Tissus de Lyon...) and the bill for clues--moved by the mystery until another sentiment arose: la culpabilité

I can think of a lot of people who need cash more than me... There was one of my neighbors, for one. There were whole families I had met, thanks to my Mom, in Mexico. And what about all the refugees who had recently lost their temporary shelter in Calais? Who were we to be receiving any kind of aide?

Then, a small voice spoke to me. It is a gift. The gift is for you. Who are you to refuse it?

Picking up the 50 euro billet, turning it over in my hand, I thought about putting it in a capsule and burying it in the garden of the home we were looking at. Would this symbolic deposit secure it for us? But what if we didn't end up in that house? The money would turn to compost!

I hid the bill in my desk and decided to wait for direction. The next few days I refused to be a bank when my family came knocking. "Mom. Can you spare 5 euros?" or "Cherie, tu as des sous?", unwilling to let the gift go to teenage whims or to pay the ramoneur (Jean-Marc would just have to write a check for the chimney sweeper! There would be a more meaningful use for this bank note!!)


One week later I had an urge to invite my husband on a date. "Veux-tu balader avec moi? Would you like to walk on the beach and then go and get ice cream?"

Collecting the 50 euros from its hiding place, I joined Jean-Marc who had finished some vineyard chores. There, in the middle of a busy week, we experienced a peaceful reprieve. Sitting on the board walk in Les Lecques, our legs dangling over the edge, we savored locally made ice cream--passion fruit for him, chocolate mint for me! Next, we moved our towels to the sandy beach and took a nap, bercé by the sounds of winter on the Mediterranean - a woman walking her dog, a man taking a break from his construction job to peel of his work clothes and swim in the sea, and a father playing ball with his young son, by the pier. In the midst of this, a vigneron and his wife held hands. Our eyes closed, we listened to the seagulls call as they flew over our heads, high in the sky.

When we returned home I dug into my jeans pocket and carefully tucked the change--two twenties and many coins--back into the gift's safe place. Hidden in a little box there it was, le cadeau precieux: Time in Suspension. Time standing still, succulent, savoreux, delectable like le fruit de la passion.

Merci beaucoup, M ou Madame Anonymous. The gift has since been taken out for use along the Port of Bandol, where time froze once again when I caught up with a good friend over fizzy drinks (deux Pérriers citrons). I've tucked the change--another two bills and more coins!--back into its safe place. The gift seems to multiply, like blessings mentioned in your mysterious letter. Que Dieu te benisse.

la culpabilité = guilt
chéri(e) = dear
balader = to walk
un vigneron = wine farmer, wine maker
bercer = to rock
savoreux = savory
le fruit de la passion = passion fruit
deux Perriers citrons = two Perriers with lemon

Family Christmas photo taken at home in front of a crop of sunflowers--flowering in December!

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation.

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