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Sunday, May 18, 2014

It's not different, I am

This is what we did Saturday morning, we went to the outdoor market. Fresh produce, cheese, meats, wine, and clothing were all displayed along several aisles in the center of the village. There were old couples, young couples, solitary individuals, babies in strollers, and old women and men with canes.
In many ways, it's comparable to the Santa Barbara Farmers' Market...but different, not better, but different. I'm different. I'm reoriented in a different way in France than I am in California.
The vacation experience I have in France removes me from all familiarity and role and inserts me into a different reality and role. In Santa Barbara I'm known as "Pastor Don" and I love that identity and role. In a smaller community like Santa Barbara, I recognize someone almost everywhere I go, and they recognize me as pastor of Montecito Covenant Church.
In France, I'm not known for anything other than being a strange foreigner who speaks badly! I cannot understand the conversations around me, nor do I want to. I observe and watch things keenly. I savor new smells and new tastes (recently a gray cheese spread that tastes like bleu cheese!). My schedule and time is not run by appointments or committees or deadlines, but by my mood, the weather and our energy. I read differently while on vacation. I read for me and I read for as long as I wish. No telephone calls interrupt devotions or knocks on the door. Martha and I have a morning routine of silent respect until after breakfast when we discuss our direction for the day.
What happens most while on vacation in France is I remember what I have forgotten: that I am a servant of Christ and steward of the mysteries, that God has a marvelous plan unfolding that I neither have to manage or worry about, that every person I encounter is a sacred mystery and not a problem to be solved or a volunteer to recruit or keep happy, that God is not impressed by what impresses (and frightens) me, that there is hope for me and the church and the world!

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