It's not different, I am
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!