Le Ravin: Jean-Marc's car accident in the French Alps
Tout va bien se passer (French for Everything's Gonna be OK!)

French for 'Emptiness': Il y a dans le coeur de l' homme un vide....

Heartfelt remerciements for your responses to this award from La Renaissance Française. Your kind words are pure gold! Back now to the weekly chronicle. I'm eagerly rolling up my sleeves and I thank you for reading.  (Mince! just realized today's word (selected days ago) clashes with this opening message. Read on to find out why... and learn extra vocabulary and French phrases in the story.

Today's Word: le vide

    : emptiness, nothingness, void

Audio file: click here and listen to Jean-Marc read these French words:
Il y a dans le coeur de l' homme un vide en forme de Dieu que rien de ce qui a été créé ne peux remplir. There is a God-shaped hole in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing. 

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

When my husband alerted me one of our hens was loose, I hurried over to the poulailler--a large enclosed yard where our 4 chicks and most of the neighborhood doves and pigeons congregate at feeding time. But as soon as our snow-white fugitive, 'Mama', saw me she hurried behind the narrow fence, out of reach.

There was no time to chase down Mama if I was to make it to church on time. Tant pis! With any luck, Jules would see her from her studio window and put her safely back. On my way out, I quickly covered an artichoke plant to protect it from a wandering beak and hoped the lettuce et compagnie would be safe! Still, I worried about any fowl play, or damage I might return home to, what with a hen-on-the-loose... 

Strangely, the moment I walked out our front gate, poof! the worry disappeared...only to return hours later, on my way home from Sunday service. During the twenty-minute walk, I had been busy trying to memorize a quote our pasteur shared, by the French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal:

Il y a dans le coeur de l' homme un vide en forme de Dieu que rien de ce qui a été créé ne peux remplir. There is a God-shaped hole in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing.

Il y a dans le coeur de l' homme un vide ...
I was in the middle of repeating the citation when Mon Dieu! Ma poule! I remembered the situation back home... Cautiously opening the front gate, I was surprised to see my chicken bolting across the yard, in my direction. Skidding to a complete stop at my feet, my hen abruptly turned and crouched down in an instant surrender. So I reached down and swooped her up.

As we walked quietly back to the fenced pen, my feather fugitive resting securely under my own wing, I murmured to her: Big world out there, hmm? Lots of fresh grass to eat, luscious lettuce, forbidden artichokes leaves... And now, after tasting all that you want to go back to your humble--cozy abode...

With each vérité, my hen murmured back, her eyes fixed on her now-precious enclos.
Yes, I understand, I do understand! I continued, sharing a famous dicton:

Un petit chez soi vaut mieux qu'un grand chez les autres. A little place, all one's own, is worth more than a big someone else's place.

A sweet quote, n'est-ce pas? This brings me back to the other citation I had been trying to memorize. Let's see, where was I... Il y a dans le coeur de l' homme un vide en forme de Dieu...there is, in the heart of man, an emptiness... in the shape of God....

The two sayings have nothing to do with one another, but after trying to scribble some philosophy into a chicken story, I am suddenly all fowled up, and struggling to conclude today's offering. How about we combine both quotes and end with this proverb:

Home is where the heart is. Là où est le coeur, là est le foyer.

For more, don't miss Pascal's God-shaped Hole, an article in The Harvard Ichthus. And, special thanks to our hen, 'Mama,' for inspiring so many bilingual French quotes in today's edition. 

le remerciement = thanks, acknowledgment
= damn!
le poulailler
= henhouse, chicken coop
zut! = shoot!
tant pis = too bad
et compagnie = and the rest, and the others
le pasteur = pastor, minister
Il y a dans le coeur de l' homme un vide en forme de Dieu que rien de ce qui a été créé ne peux remplir = There is a God-shaped hole in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing
la vérité = truth
le dicton = saying, adage, proverb
un enclos = pen, run, enclosed plot of land
un petit chez soi vaut mieux qu'un grand chez les autres = A little place, all one's own, is worth more than a big someone else's place!
n'est-ce pas? = isn't it?
Là où est le coeur, là est le foyer = Home is where the heart is
Homme heart coeur
I was looking for photos to go with the heart/home theme in the last quote. Est-ce que ça passe ou ça casse? Does this one make it or break it? Would you rather see a photo of a chicken? :-)

Poulailler chicken pen

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Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristi,
I am up early for pilates and enjoyed reading your story before I begin my day! Loved the photos too!
Have a lovely Wednesday! We are waiting for snow today! I took the dog out and nothing yet!


Great writing about the whole in one’s heart and so true.
Bon courage, joyeux Noël.

Linda Karber

Dear Kristi,

I loved your story today. It was hard to choose my favorite quote, but this one stayed with me:

Home is where the heart is. Là où est le coeur, là est le foyer.



Home is where the heart is has taken on so much meaning since March this year. So grateful for all we have. Including your wise words.

Tim Averill

You know that there has been a hole in my heart for almost a year now since Lauren passed away. Losing my wife of 50+ years is a big hole to fill, but I am thankful for the support of a community of friends and family, along with memories that sustain me.


Kristin Espinasse



Kristin, I know the truth of the pastor's Pascal quote. And I love your fowl play on words!!! More than one good lesson in your post today. Thank you.

Margaret K Bradley

Kristi - Thank you for the photo of our favorite tea shop in Seguret!

Cynthia Lewis

Comme d'habitude, I was charmed by your story today. Your play on words made me smile and that's always a good thing, especially nowadays! Many thanks and my best wishes.

Merle Minds

Love it, especially the back and forth murmurings with your chicken!

Mary Jeanne

Tim' where ever you are, hang in there, hang on to all the beautiful memories you have of your dear Lauren! My thoughts and my prayers are with you and do not forget so is God and Lauren! Merry Christmas! Joyeux Noel!
Mary Jeanne

Leslie NYC

There is so much magic, wisdom, and delight here and it is so casually, quietly offered. I like the sitting doves. I always consider their presence a blessing of sorts.
Yes to a small place that is ours.
The God-shaped hole I have to reflect on. I think of the emptyness as so torn and irregular, but maybe that IS or could be God's shape.
I can just picture la poule crouching.
Un grand merci pour cette lettre.


Great quote from Pascal. Very "a propos"
in this Advent time. Thanks!

Gail Accuardi

Chickens are quite amazing creatures, they give back to us in Spring and Summer, one egg a day, a sort of gratitude for what we give them, food and protection.

K.J. Laramie

Your regenerative metaphor today, wrapping the world in a chicken story, is absolutely brilliant!
Merci mille fois!! 🙏

This little poem was written five years before you started sharing your gift with the world. But, it definitely has your name all over it. We all appreciate you so much, Kristi.


Golden raiment
Blank with Love
For the Treasure
Little wings
Of Light
Pass by
To spin
And weave
Each measure
Placing words
In the hands of one
Born to serve Your Will
Yielding to
The sound
Of Light

K. J. Laramie
Creative Consultant Consortium, LLC
Florida, USA
Copyright 1995

Michael Goodman

Bonjour Kristi,

I hate to quibble with such a lovely story, which I add to the list of my favorites. But in the fifth paragraph of your account, which begins with the initial part of the Pascal quotation, you describe your thoughts as, pondering the sermon of le pasteur, you return home from church. You write, "Mon Dieu! Mon poule! But unlike "le poulailler" and "le poulet," "poule" takes the feminine definite article.


Michael Goodman

Kristin Espinasse

Hello Michael, Thank you very much for catching that error. Au contraire! Edits like these are so helpful. Merci beaucoup ! 

Kristin Espinasse

Beautiful poem, K.J.! Merci beaucoup.


Merci, Kristi,
J’aime bien comment tu as délivrée un dicton sérieux dans une petite histoire pleine de bonne humeur. Comme les autres avaient dit, tes jeux de mots me plaisent beaucoup. Tu as beaucoup de pouvoir avec ton stylo!

Stacy Lund

My dear friend Kristi,
Congratulations on this recognition of your writing - of following your heart. I’m so proud of you!
I got a giggle out of today’s tale. The wild wanderings of our flock. Home is where the heart is. Love, Stacy


Hi Tim - I completely empathize with your sorrow, having lost my husband and best friend of 51+ years last Feb. But I really didn't "lose" him in one sense of that word, because I know where he is, and that I will see him again. So that assurance, as well as family and friends, keeps me hopeful even in these circumstances, and helps fill that hole in my heart. Sadly, nothing in this earthly realm lasts forever, but life with God, which includes the present, does. I wish you peace, comfort and joy for all your blessings, which include Lauren.
- Janet


Love your little hen, Mama. Her discovery, probably again, that home s best, os one each make until we rest in Christ.
God bless, C-Marie

Judy Feldman

Kristi, this is such a sweet story. My daughter had hens for many years, so I can picture the situation! I love your dicton about “un petit chez soi,” especially now that my chez moi is smaller and cozier!
Sending holiday wishes to you & your family, with hopes for a vaccine and the end of our worldwide trauma.


Our dear Kristi,
Your beautiful words--and this wonderful post--absolutely wraps itself around my heart.
God graced you with His gift,and you have never forgotten that you have it and where it came from.
All I can say is:Nobody deserves that award more than you do.
You are a blessing in all of our lives.

K.J. Laramie

... and so humble, too, Natalia...
it becomes more evident every day! 😊
I’m sorry to get carried away, but there should be more Kristins everywhere.

sandra sellers

Thank you for this lovely story and congratulations on your Gold Medal ! ps. I miss your Instagram photo/postings !

Cindy McD

Superbe Kristi! Merci et
Bisous à toi et Jules.


Love this ♥

Diane Heinecke

Kristi, I apologize for not having congratulated you on your well-deserved award as soon as I read about it. I've been dealing with some non-COVID health issues. "Gettin' old ain't for sissies."

I was excited for you as much as if we were sisters and got the news! In a way, I follow your life and musings even more. Thank you for being my muse!
Sending love and Christmas blessings across the pond.

Jerry Sullivan

My favorite Pascal quote is “Le coeur a ses raisons que le raison ne connaît point.”

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