Reflection Masthead
Issue 144 - Along the Rhone  - November 2016

Join Our Mailing List

Video Glimpses
We enjoyed every place we visited on our trip, from tiny villages like Oingt and Les Baux-de-Provence to the major city of Lyon.
Yet special memories linger around the town of Arles, with its Roman ruins and Provencal light. 
Arles, colors of the city
Arles, colors of the city

As Jan mentions in her column, it was a surprising treat to stand in the same spots where Vincent van Gogh painted, and where this video will take you, as well:
Vincent In Arles
Vincent In Arles
Soul Windows Logo

Past Issues



2-Creating Sacred Space

3-Leaving Footprints


5-Ordered Life

76-Vanier Visit

87-Wondrous Fear, Holy Awe

91-Crater Lake


101-On Reflections 

102-Morning Moments

108-NBA Championship

110-On Freedom 

112 Robin Williams 


116-Kentucky Epiphany 

119-Christmas Mystery  


121-Radical Amazement 

122-St.John's Bible 

124-Botanical Garden 

126-Call of the King 

127-Living Our Stories 

128-Pope Francis 

129-Saint Francis 


131-The Way of Peace  

132-Danube Reflections  

133-Want Happiness? 

134-Our Uncertain Certainties 

135-Corita Kent 



138-Daniel Berrigan 






Link to all past issues     


In late October, we spent a week cruising the Rhone and Soane Rivers in southern France.  Our reflections this issue stem from that trip.
Encounters in Avignon
In half a day in Avignon, I (to my surprise) encountered five locals more than once.
The first was predictable. He was fifty-ish, unshaven, and apparently homeless. Sitting alongside the pedestrian walkway between a riverside parking lot and the city-center, a begging-bowl in front of him, he was strategically placed to encounter tourists, workers and shoppers.
But this beggar did not beg. There was no aggressive panhandling. He simply greeted passers-by with a pleasant, "Bonjour!" I made two round-trips past his station, and by the third exchange of greetings, it felt like he was an old acquaintance. If my French were at all passable, I would have stopped to chat. I still regret not giving him any money.
The second encounter was with a pharmacist.  Jan was sick with some sort of flu. A doctor came on board to examine her. She was Avignon City Wall given a prescription, and directions to a nearby pharmacy where the staff spoke English. Sort of. "Parlez-vous anglais?" I asked the pharmacist. "Un peu" ("a little") was her response. It was enough. She filled the prescriptions, and gave clear instructions. Later, Jan felt well enough to join the walking tour of the city. Just before reaching the medieval city wall, a woman hurried past in the other direction. "That's your pharmacist!" I said to Jan, who got only a view of the woman's retreating back.
The third encounter was most surprising. On my first foray into town, I met three teenage girls, maybe 15 years old, walking side by side in the other direction. The one closest to me, a petite brunette in a turquoise sweater, spoke in very animated, rapid-fire French, while her two companions laughed in response.  An hour-and-a-half later, as I made my way to the pharmacy, I encountered the same three girls. Once again, the girl in the turquoise sweater was regaling her companions with a commentary that appeared to give great pleasure.
Three chance encounters in a foreign city: The friendly beggar who did not beg. The competent, helpful pharmacist. Three young girls, completely indifferent to my presence, who nonetheless delighted me with their very French joie de vivre. In half a day in Avignon, I happened to encounter five strangers more than once. Each left a lasting, and positive, impression.
Whose life will you touch today?
- Bill
Starry Night
       I was jealous of Bill's new Kindle Eiffel Tower Leather Cover, and, sublimating my intense inner covetousness, ordered a less enviable motif, yet artistic design, "Starry Night" for my new Kindle - after all, Bill has a "Starry Night" tie that he always wears when we go to France. It wasn't until we set out for our Rhone cruise that my synapses fired! Arles is on our itinerary!
       Arles, the ancient Gallo-Roman town where Dutch Post- Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh created over 300 works during the brief time (1888-1889), is saturated with the seemingly virtual reality of Van Gogh. In Arles, you encounter the olive trees, wheat fields, yellow house, hospital courtyard, cafe terrace at night, and yes, the starry night over the Rhone - subjects of Van Gogh's famous paintings. Our very informed and animated local guide spoke of Vincent's powerful wrenching life, a disturbed genius, with psychological acuity as if she had been his
compagnon intime. I was rapt by both his art and his life! As soon as we returned home, I ordered the Kindle version of his biography, simpler to manage than the 976-page paper edition, and continue to be fascinated by what it is that makes the man and his art a lasting impressionist paragon.
       "He did not paint his pictures; it was like he exhaled them in a gasping, boiling breath," one German critic aptly wrote of Van Gogh. As I explore inner aspects of Van Gogh's life as well as his professional and artistic mythology and history, I marvel at the historians and biographers who etch people into immortality. As you  stroll the Gallic cobblestones under starry skies toward Cafe Terrace Place du Forum, you encounter Vincent Van Gogh, his art, and maybe even his ghost!     --by Jan
Please share Reflection freely by forwarding any issue (click "Forward email" below), but remember to respect copyright laws by not altering, copying, or reproducing Reflection, whole or in part, without written permission.
Copyright (c) 2016 Soul Windows Ministries

Sincerely,  Bill Howden & Jan Davis
Soul Windows Ministries