Hundreds of years ago in Paris, France the area around Place du Caire was inhabited by beggars, gypsies, prostitutes, thieves and rag-and-bone men. By day many of these plied their fellow citizens with strange wounds, maimings and crippled children; by night wounds were wiped off, maimings became whole and crippled children laughed and romped. The place became derisively known as ”Le Cour des Miracles”, (The Court of Miracles).
I remember the first time I had heard of that place and realized that each of us have our own “Court of Miracles.” A place we go when we need to be who we are and not what we have to be to survive. In that place we have friends who know, and do not judge us for, our weaknesses. They are our people, these friends, and we come together with fair regularity to escape the myriad stresses and expectations of the day.
One such place for me is the coffee house on Saginaw Street. I know that on any given day I can amble in and be among friends, or, at the very least, away from stresses. There I can engage in intelligent conversation on the interesting trivialities that make up my world or quietly put thoughts together into stories, paintings or bindings.
This afternoon the coffee house was filled with members of the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra and the piano kept us all company as we worked or chatted on this or that until the time came to go to the evening concert in Wenona Park.
I stopped for a moment today as the piano played – sitting with a cup of joe – and thought of a few past moments: Ba’b and the Spur-of-the-Moment Fur Coats, Helen and the Saga of the Man-Eating Mini Dog, Amandrew and the Naughty Bowels, Naseem and The Many Queens, Chadwick and The Next Sarcastic Thing, Erica and The Swearing Tuesdays, Judith and The Soggy Quiche, Mark and The Dangerous Tambourine, Sean and The Porkchop Hooker . . . .
I cannot begin to number the griefs shared, the stories swapped and the laughs enjoyed in that place; they come, do what they do, and leave our lives that much the richer for having brought us all closer for those few moments. After such times, we gather the tools of our various trades, adjust our countenances for the rest of the world and leave our Court of Miracles until the next time we meet, each able to better cope with the day because of the respite had and the respite anticipated.
(Originally published in the Bay City Times, 2005, SPM)