Another hot summer day and our air is still filled with smoke, but rain is in the forecast for later this week. I can hardly wait. Today is Wednesday and that helps because it's book giveaway day and we have a guest - Gail Kittleson. Welcome Gail.
Gail’s a late-blooming writer. The transition from non-fiction to fiction surprised her, but she’s intrigued by the journey. She and her husband live in Northern Iowa, where they enjoy their family and Gail teaches a small creative writing class. Walking provides perennial pleasure, and Gail likes to bicycle and garden. In winter, an Arizona mountain town brings sinus relief, wonderful hiking trails, and novel fodder galore. Connecting with people is pure joy, so please feel free to contact her.
Where to find her books.
Seeing Things Anew
Back in the Dark Ages of 1981, my husband Lance and I lived in Le Chambon sur Lignon in the Haute Loire Region of France. We stayed there for about eight months of language study before flying to Senegal, West Africa to a mission among the Pulaar-speaking people. Our daughter was two and our son four months old at the outset. Lance, an Army brat, had lived and traveled in Europe, but this was my first European visit.
We lived in such a gorgeous part of the country, with mountains in the distance, beautiful hilly terrain, stone walls and history everywhere. Encouraged to practice our fledgling French on the local inhabitants, we certainly gave it the old one-two. (I think they’d had about enough of coddling language students long, long before we arrived in town.)
The school itself, set in a residential area, consisted of big old stone buildings staffed by folks who also worked with cows out in the countryside. Suffice it to say, we had ample opportunity to delve into the culture and to contract an ailment akin to dysentery. One clear memory is of toilets flushing day and night.
Busy with full-time language study and caring for our children, we left more than a few stones unturned in discovering the full scope of the village.
But a few decades later, researching my World War II novel, A Purpose True (second in a series), some astonishing information came my way. It turns out that the very town we lived in was the “go-to” location for many Jewish refugees and children during the war. Set high on the Vivarais Plain, the area was isolated and difficult to reach.
The entire community banded together in spite of the Vichy government’s tight control under Nazi auspices. Led by an intense pastor and his wife, people received Jewish children into their homes and other shelters, formed schools, and provided care night and day.
Who knows how many lives they saved? Desperate people who walked the same streets we walked...right in the mountain village we called home.
If ever there were a snapshot of Christian defiance, this was it. Many other groups sacrificed much for the cause, but this particular Protestant community did themselves proud and received Israel's “Righteous Among the Nations” award.
Of course, now the story has been told and retold, most recently by Caroline Moorehead in Village of Secrets (HarperCollins 2014). This history is a deep well, with so much to offer that’s unseen by the casual observer.
We still have these photos from our time in Le Chambon, but oh, how many more we would have taken, had we known where we were. The ones included here are from way back then.
We did realize the director of our school had been active in the French Resistance, but how many questions could we have asked him if we’d been more aware? I wouldn’t be the least surprised if rescued Jewish children inhabited our rooms a few decades earlier.
What that language immersion time did give me, thanks to Lance’s incorrigible desire to climb to the top of whatever’s in sight and his willingness to carry the bulk of our load, was a still-intact experience of the rugged terrain. Getting out into the countryside did our family worlds of good, and we hiked as often as possible.
Of course, my research discovery gave me the desire to go back. Soon. With the present condition of our knees, necks, and backs, we’d do far less hiking, but I’m still hoping. We’ll see how that works out.
- Do you look back at an experience that one day comes to you with new clarity? Do you ever think, “If only I had known...?”
Catching Up With Daylight
Many of us long for rest, as the author did while renovating an old house after her husband’s first deployment to Iraq. Yet a different hunger undergirded that desire: a hunger for wholeness.
No fast track exists to a closer walk with God, but the ancient Benedictine practice of Lectio Divina enhances and extends our times with our Creator. Allowing the Spirit to emphasize one word and ruminating on that word throughout the day empowers us to remain present for every moment, attentive to embrace all that God has for us.
As you take this journey with the author, you will become aware of those who have paved our way, and of those around us who need fresh courage. And you may even waken early one morning to discover the moon painted with a fresh hue.
Where to order:
Gail is giving away one free e-book copy of Catching Up With Daylight. For a chance to win, leave a comment along with your email address.
Last week's winner of Smokescreen is Ashley Hisler! Congratulations!
Grace and peace to you from God,