Saturday, May 18, 2019

Le Mont St. Michel

The last week of February I sat in the back garden in the sun with Noreen.  That pleasant week made the cold wind and rain that descended on the first of March that much more of a shock to the system.  The day we planned to visit Mont St. Michel there wasn't much rain, but the wind was fierce.  Have you ever ridden a bike in the wind?  It's a lot like running I suppose:  when it's at your back you feel like you could fly, but when you're pushing into it, it is hard-going.  


There was a fair amount of singing, "When you know the notes to sing, you can sing most anything!" as we rode in a group down this path to the mont you can just see in the distance.


Seeing Mont St. Michel from a distance makes you feel like you've entered into the enchanted world of fairy tales.  It's so other-worldly.  


The stone streets at the bottom are filled with restaurants and shops to purchase memorabilia as well as swords and shields and books about the history of the abbey at the top of the mount.  Once you enter through the gate you keep climbing slowly up and up, gaining an ever-more-impressive view of the sand and water below you.


There are dangerous sections of sinking sand amidst these coastal flats.  


The smell of salt water is strong in the air, and if you want to visit the abbey be prepared to climb a lot of steps.


The church is really beautiful.


K.J. and I most enjoyed the cloister this time.  Maybe it's the bright patch of green in the middle that seems to be begging for a tree.


I loved all the white stones used in the path, and the colors of the sea reflected in the window glass.  There are many huge rooms to walk through, and it's always tempting to go stand in one of the enormous open fireplaces.


The size and scope of this room seemed the perfect place for a skirmish between the fellowship and orcs.


Outside the abbey, the Japanese cherry blossoms were just beginning to appear all pink and white on the trees.

I recently read a book published in 1942 that partly takes place at Mont Saint Michel.  When I read the author's description I thought, Yes!  That is exactly what it feels like.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Les Obiones: Staying at a Lamb Farm

For the past couple of years when we travel K.J. has used Airbnb to find us a place to stay.  It's been a great way to stay somewhere reasonably priced, be able to cook our own meals, and most importantly--have a separate bedroom from the kids. 😊  It's also just fun to stay somewhere charming, old, different, or some combination of the three.  



When K.J. was researching our two-night stay in Brittany he discovered a sheep farm that was opening part of the old stone farmhouse as an Airbnb.  I loved photographing the lambs in North Yorkshire , so I was really hopeful our trip would coincide with lambing time in Bretagne.



Our hosts at Les Obiones were a young couple who left their former jobs and spent a year learning from the previous owner how to run the farm before taking over for themselves in October.  Felix invited us to come to the barn at feeding time.  The barn is a very loud place at feeding time; a chorus of maaa-maaaas greeted us.



A few lambs whose mothers weren't able to feed them were kept in a special pen.  They ran to greet us when we walked up and made a huge racket.  I think they knew what time it was.


Felix filled the tubs with milk and gave us the opportunity to bottle-feed the two who needed special attention. 



All was quiet for a few minutes.  The lambs were eager and contented eaters.


What a floppy-eared darling.


Thursday, April 18, 2019

Rainbows and Stars

Spending a couple of days in Normandy and Brittany last month gave us an opportunity to enjoy "rainbow weather."  That perfect constant back and forth of sun and rain and clouds happened a lot in England, and I've missed it.  You can bet I yelled at K.J. to stop the car when we saw this out of our windows.


The rest of our drive included more alternating rain and clouds, but shortly after we arrived at our Airbnb someone spotted another rainbow across the fields.


March is a good time for rainbows, I suppose. 🍀

Rainbow-spotting always feels magical, but the best moment of looking up came that night when James walked out to the car.  He stepped out the door into the cold, and I heard him gasp.  I always think something's gone wrong or someone's been hurt when I hear sounds like that, but the next thing I heard was James saying with complete amazement:  "Look at the stars!!"  I never want to forget the wonder I heard in his voice.


I didn't have my big tripod with me, but I tried to capture some of the wonder with K.J.'s small, flexible one.  My camera lens was a little too heavy for it, but I got a couple of shots to help us remember.  I didn't realize how long it had been since we'd been somewhere so dark.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Joy of Baptism and Religious Freedom

Sunday was a special Palm Sunday for our family.  


It's been a joy to watch James's faith in Jesus grow, and he's been wanting to be baptized for awhile now.  He was baptized alongside people from the Philippines, Nigeria, and Syria, such a special picture of how God is saving people from every tribe and nation.  What a gift to celebrate this moment here with our Emmanuel International Church family.

  

I was especially moved after talking to someone who previously lived in a country too frightening for them to be baptized in, for fear of what retaliation might be taken by the government.  For those of us who have always breathed the air of freedom, how thankful we ought to be!  This dear person was so thankful to now be living in a place with religious freedom.  

Earlier in the week I'd read 1 Timothy 2, and I want to take Paul's admonition more to heart, because I want to be thankful for and keep living a quiet life with all godliness and dignity.  I want others to be free to live a life of dignity without fear, too.  Join me? 

Sunday, April 7, 2019

St. Ceneri and the Miracle of the Spring

Six years ago I was in the middle of planning my first mission trip with K.J. to Paris to Emmanuel International Church.  Since the trip was in May (our anniversary month), and because we were already there, we also planned to stay a week after the mission trip to do a little extra exploring.  My Pinterest search of beautiful places in France came up with a quaint village that we loved.  I have two blog posts of beautiful May pictures here and here.  

While we were driving that little rental car around Normandy we talked about the possibility of life and ministry in Europe.  We talked about it again with Parker at the end of that trip.  We couldn't have known that six years later we'd be visiting this same little village again with our kids and our lovely music leader from EIC Ternes!  


This visit didn't take place in the full bloom of May, but in the muddy middle of the first week of March.  After a sunny and warm farewell to February, March blew in like a lion, and I couldn't get over how cold I felt.  Once you feel the first warmth of spring it's hard to go back to winter's cold.  Even so, the village was as quiet and peaceful as we remembered it.


We squelched through the mud to the river's edge where a sign told us of a miracle spring that came up centuries ago.  The story seemed a little suspect, both because Why did you need a spring when the river was right there?  and because immediately after the saint required another miracle to get across the river, which to our minds, didn't seem like it would be that hard to swim.  


But the stones that mark the spring are really pretty.


We got caught in a downpour shortly after this, and we all climbed back into the car with wet coats and muddy boots, but it was a pretty little spot to stretch our legs all the same.