Translation: Everyone is on vacation! So I returned to our small town of 20,000 to find it was even quieter than when I’d left a month ago. Many businesses, like this one are closed for the month of August and the streets look like this.
Where does everyone go? What are they all doing?
We have learned that while many go to the beaches in the south, some go to visit family in another parts of France and lots of people go camping, to the mountains and engage in summer sports (cycling, kayaking, mountain biking). This is one of the local ski resort towns that runs the chair lift to take people to the top to ride dirt bikes down the slopes or the sled with wheels for the cement toboggan run.
Finding ourselves in France, with no school for the month, we decided to do as the French do. We have rented a car for the month so we can take day trips to explore the area around our home. With clear, sunny days we have been able to visit several high Alp towns for hiking, picnicking and taking in the view.
We got up very early one morning to drive the hour and a half to Chamonix to be among the first of the day to go up the tram to the top of Mont Blanc to see the incredible glaciers. It was a gorgeous, cloudless, clear day to watch the Alpinist who brave the snow fields and glaciers to climb to the top of Mont Blanc or who challenge themselves with climbing the surrounding rock formations. We were able to hike a portion of the way down to take in more of the beauty of the mountains but we did not brave the glaciers on foot.
As we see families enjoying themselves, resting from work and taking in recreational activities it does cause us to focus some attention on the whole issue of rest/work and how different cultures do both. Of course much of these patterns have been created by history, schooling of children, seasonal changes and life views. How many Americans could take 2-4 weeks off work, rent a house on the coast (or camp in a trailer or stay with relatives)? Yet, for many French people it is the expectation or norm, with whole businesses closing down for the month and people saving all year to be able to take their vacation. It’s different priorities, different rhythms of cultures, different views of work and rest. It is also difficult to be in one culture and try to live according to another culture. But it does call to mind the rhythms of rest we were created to have and the purpose of rest for our wholeness (“Six days shall you work but the seventh day is to be a sabbath to the Lord. . . On it you shall not do any work. . . ” Ex. 20:9-10) .
All that is to say, that while we are enjoying the vacation from our language school (although continuing to study on our own) we are very mindful of finding our true rest in God alone. As I’ve had some time to reflect, and enjoy the mountains all around me here, it calls me again to the place of true rest. As David says in Psalm 62, “Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation, he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.” (Ps 62:5,6) So we pray this true rest may be apprehended more and more by those who are looking for the rest that brings wholeness and life. And we hope you are getting to relax in a beautiful place too!