Translation Louise Thunin
Whenever I take a taxi, I talk to the driver. Thus I sometimes discover chapters of extraordinary lives. On the way, I mention that I’m a minister, and exciting conversation follows. People ask questions then, kindly and with interest, about ministers in particular and Protestantism in general, as they know nothing about it.
This is how I came to discover that nearly all taxi drivers started out in some other profession.
The other day, I was to attend a wedding ceremony at the Oratoire du Louvre church. I waited in vain in the Underground station. We were finally informed by public announcement that traffic on this line (and it was the only one) would be stopped for at least one hour due to a fire. What could I do ? I was going to miss that ceremony, and I wanted to be there. I ran outside and hailed a taxi ! It was available; what luck !
I pointed out to the driver, a man still young, that, alas, I was in a big hurry. He started driving fast. He too was one of those who had been glad to change professions. But he led me to understand that, on the other hand, he was unhappy, because he hadn’t been such a good ˝driver˝ in his personal life. As we reached the church, I asked him to let me off in front of it. He was surprised that I was going to church. He offered to reduce his fee and begged me to pray for him; he told me his name. In a matter of seconds, a thousand questions (including the words grace, freely given, religious bargaining, indulgences…) spun around in my mind. Should I refuse ? But wasn’t his request a sort of gift ? I told him I would pray for him, even if I paid the full fee. But he refused to change his mind on that. I accepted, and I prayed for him. I couldn’t help thinking, perhaps wrongly so, that if I had refused, he would have felt misunderstood and rejected by a man of the cloth, as they say. Wouldn’t that have contradicted the Gospel I preach ?