My adventures among the French hit a major snag this past week which knocked me down pretty hard. I had a moment of angrily wondering if all these complications and obstacles I’ve gone through were worth it. I realized though that a lot of why I was reacting the way I was although I will attest that the complication is indeed serious was because of fatigue. Ever since I arrived nearly two months ago, it’s been nothing but work with only a brief reprieve here and there. On top of work, I’ve been stressed about one thing or another not working on both sides of the globe. It’s been a lot to handle while still trying to keep a calm composure.
So, today, I decided that I would get out of town, leave the worries and stacks of grading behind, and return to a place that had enchanted me when I was here nearly seven years ago.
To Vizille I went. Can you tell why?
Vizille is a small village just south of Grenoble which has a beautiful park and manor. The manor now houses a museum of the French Revolution. It’s a fascinating museum that I visited as a study abroad student, but today, I was mainly interested in strolling the trails through the fall foliage and finding myself a nice little bench to relax on while I did some journal writing. I have to confess to nearly tearing up as soon as I walked into the park. This was just what I needed, and it was just as beautiful if not more so as I remembered it being. I had hesitated going this morning mostly just due to fatigue (the neighbors next door decided to have a rather loud party last night), but my entire being just sighed with relief as I breathed in the fresh air and gazed upon the breathtaking contrast of colors.
I’ve missed nature. I feel like I’ve been stuck in the hustle and bustle of a city with dirty streets and loud vehicles for far too long. It’s so peaceful to hear the rush of water from a small waterfall, the wind blowing through the trees, and the birds chirping and singing. Yes, this was a good idea. This is what I needed.
I strolled along and just enjoyed being here at this time getting to see France in the fall. I’ve never been here during the fall, so it’s been a special treat to see the mountains become colorful and see the trees begin changing in town and around. Others in the park seemed to have the same look of relaxation as they walked along. Occasionally I shared a nod and a smile with a passerby, but everyone seemed to be respectful of the need to unplug and just be. I was delighted to find myself a little bench and write I did for a good half hour until I felt the need to get up and walk.
I’m glad that God has created such beautiful places in which we can find an occasional retreat. I wrote a lot in my journal about what I’d been through so far but also enjoyed writing about the people He sent to comfort me and cheer me up. I feel like it’s going to be okay. That doesn’t mean that every detail will work out like I would like it to, but I know He’ll be with me no matter what the answer is. I’m not forgotten nor am I forsaken.
Fall in France, it’s easy on the eyes! I would be careful in a place like this though. It has a way of casting a spell on you making you dream about it even years after you return home. I have often in the years since I was last here thought of this place and how peaceful it was. Something about fall just added an extra flavor of enchantment.
However, I would not paint France as a land of paradise. Enchanting indeed, but I think I made a mistake when I was here before. I came then as a study abroad student with stars in my eyes practically floating on air that this dream to come to France had come true. This time I’ve come and am experiencing everyday life in France which effectively means that I don’t see France in the same way. I see it more as it really is because of the struggles and the experiences I’ve had so far. This is why I’m here. I’m here to truly learn what it’s like to live in the French culture.
Well, that and to drink coffee and eat pastries. Let’s not forget what’s important here in having a “cultural experience”. 😉 Take a look at this amazing coffee I got from a café the other day. Now, that is what I call a café crème! I even let out a “Wow!” when the waiter brought it. Coffee, milk, and a spoon to go along with it, perfect for the rainy day that it was. I believe I’ve found “my café”. Been looking for it, so I’m glad to have found it.
And so, life continues ever onward even with its bumps and curves in the road. I’m thankful to know Who holds my hand and Who holds tomorrow.