Life in the 78300
That's the postal code for our new home, Poissy in France. Home to an ancient royal abbey that was destroyed in the Revolution, to a famous (and unfortunately failed) religious colloquy between Catholics and Protestants aiming to empower religious multiculturalism in 1561, the painter Ernest Meissonier (our street is named after him [link to his works]), Cristine de Pisan: an Italian nun who lived here in the 1400s and was the first woman in France to make a living from her poetry writing and now US the American Parsons-McClain clan come to pastor and journey with the Eglise Réformée de France parish here [site].
Today marks two weeks that we've been here in France after leaving Oakland and life in California. Some have asked why? Others commented "why not?" In the past few days we've wondered ourselves, "what that hell have we done?" Something funny happens to us: I'd call it God, or a God-moment, others might call it chance, synchronicity, karma, or luck. We keep getting pulled back here: to this place, this country, these people. I've been going back and forth between Northern California and France since 1992. Feeling pulled | attracted | called to the two places and all that they represent in terms of people, faith-communities and culture in that time. We had a day of depression and questioning this past week, wondering why we gave up so much to come here to start over in terms of finances, friends, "stuff" and community. In reading the book I'm working through these days [My Jesus Year] that day I fell upon a quotation of the defining Bible story I identify with and that seems to give meaning to my life: the story of Abraham and Sarah being called to leave what they have/know to discover/receive something new:
The LORD had said to Abram [and Sarah], Go from your country, your people and your father's household to the land I will show you" Genesis 12:1-8
I'd forgotten about that. I'd also forgotten about the Monday afternoon about 16 months ago when my wife I and were onboard a plane taxiing at Chalres De Gaulle airport for takeoff to return to SFO following a week of interviews here. We looked at each other, having not yet had the time or mental energy to talk together about all that we'd experienced in those brief and full days, and we in near synchronistic unison uttered in a clearly un-Shakespearean way "Shit! I think we need to move back to France." And so here we are. Either we're prophetically bold to step out, leave everything behind and drag/invite our 4 & 7 year old children to discover an abrahamic way of life; or we're radically naive and foolish, chasing after a France-lifestyle dream that Peter Mayle has already written and rewritten so much that he had to move to Manhattan.
Maybe there is more to life than what meets the eye? Friends that picked us up at the airport, and who serve as some life-models for us (as they choose to move to Africa for a while with their children) commented on the fact that many people expressed solidarity, wishing that they too could move their families abroad for a while to experience the world | something bigger | more. Her response was, "Sure they want to. But you had the courage to do it!" Courage. Naieveté. Blind Faith. Prophetic Call. Dream-Chasing. Whatever it is that's brought us here we now how to assume.
So I'm changing my blog a bit. Working out how to include this emerging story within the folds of the larger unfolding story of our life, ministry and my whacky thoughts. I hope to blog on faith in a post-modern world, life in France, gardening, and parenthood here. I'm also blogging on our family adventures in a more "journal" way on our family blog at parsonsmcclainfamily.wordpress.com.