Settled, Unsettled & a Taste of Home

Settled, Unsettled & a Taste of Home

I’m going to do something I almost never do, in today’s post…

I’m going to start… by writing.

That is likely to come across as the most absurd thing one could possibly say at the beginning of a blog post, but ‘pun my soul (as Gramma Hicks would say), it’s not as absurd as all that.

In a nutshell… I almost always look back through my phone and see what have been some of the highlights of the week / past few weeks – things that have been picture-worthy, for it’s always good to include pictures that show what one it writing about. After all… “a picture’s worth a thousand words.” Once I have a few images in mind, I wrap words around them.

Today however, while I have an idea of what images I’ll include, it’s really the words that have come to mind first… a bit of a rarity, but let’s flow with it…


Today, I had an hour or so of therapy on my way home from the university, and it wasn’t unappreciated.

Today Sophie and I left at our normal time, but upon arrival at the campus, we found entries blocked by garbage cans, barriers and flames burning through dry pallets & fallen branches as furiously as the French sensibilities have reacted to new retirement laws.

Smoldering embers in me started to glow. Manifest your discontent all you want, but don’t prohibit me from doing my job.

I drove past the entrance, just far enough to clear the spoiled & selfish individuals inflicting their angst on everyone else, but not so far that they couldn’t see my defiance. I drove over a sidewalk and into a parking lot from which I was now able to access the entire campus.

The building was barricaded and classes could not be held, meaning that rather than ending the week of April 5th for me, the final classes would be pushed off to the week of April 26th.

We were let in through the administrative wing and worked on other things for the morning and part of the afternoon. Since we’d made the trip, may as well use the time productively.

Words, Music & Country Roads

It was the drive home that was particularly therapeutic.

Rather than spending part of the drive behind a student driver, learning to navigate country roads behind the wheel of a transport truck, we opted for another route that, while being a bit longer, would allow us to see a few sights and enjoy time together.

Soph (my Spotify-subscribed, in-house morning-commute D.J.), pulled up Roch Voisine’s 1990 album, Double… perhaps my favourite of his.

Soph gasped slightly, “Oh I re-MEM-ber that CD cover.”

There are songs and then there’s poetry set to music, and this album is filled with the latter. Linguistically speaking, there are few things I appreciate more than well-written songs, where lyrics are true word pictures that jump, surprisingly, between the unexpected, and seemingly unrelated images…

  • in La Promesse he talks about waiting in Paris, his eyes the colour of rain, the promise of his beloved making a drum of his heart…
  • He spends the bulk of Elle a peur des hirondelles describing the extent to which this little girl is afraid of the swallows, brought back by Spring and made to sing by the day’s sun; afraid such that he must take her in his arms, the reminder that his affection is the answer to her fear. We only find out in the final seconds of the song, that this little girl, by a brilliant twist of plot, is his cat…
  • In Tu ne saurais jamais (You’ll never know), he waxes verbose on the long and deep conversations he’s had with the love of his life and the times they’ve twirled around the room: Imaginary conversations that happen only in his head, and dances that have taken place without him ever having invited her to dance… because he was too shy to reveal his love to her.

It’s been 8 years since I’d heard that CD, but many of the lyrics came out of me as spontaneously as if I’d played the CD yesterday for the last time. Soph, of course, had vague recollections of melodies, but to see her eyes light up at the intricate wordplay (for she is a bit of a closet-songwriter and open wordsmith herself) was a joy to see.

I love that we share that.

The drive home was longer than usual, much longer in fact… but those moments, book-ended by the drive, make up for the extra time by a long shot. They are moments that I treasure up in my heart… the things that fond memories are made of years down the road.

Roch Voisine… in Concert

If Roch Voisine was on the proverbial menu, it was because earlier this week, we saw him in concert just up the road from Châtellerault, in Tours.

We’re not huge concert goers… at all, but Roch Voisine was born in the same Canadian province as me… New Brunswick, and it did me good to have a taste of home.

Liz & I had seen him in concert very early on in our marriage, likely at the height of Roch-mania (the late 1990s). At that time, he was mostly singing in French although he had English music out.

This particular concert was part of his Americana 2.0 tour, so oddly enough he was mostly singing English country music from the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Hearing Roch Voisine sing Willy Nelson, Kenny Rogers and the Everly Brothers was about the furthest thing from what my expectations could have been… although equally as oddly, I knew most of the songs thanks to my parents who were big country music fans. (Shout out to listeners of “Saturday Night Jamboree” on the radio and/or members of the Columbia Record Club!)

It was just the four of us … Timo, Sophie, Liz & I, as Dominic is working at the Courtepaille in Bordeaux for 3 weeks; a professional development opportunity that allows him to mix both work and personal goals for a little bit. Next month he’ll be moving out and into his own apartment – still here in Châtellerault – so I suppose that we’ll soon get used to doing a good deal more things as a ‘family of four’ … #ChangingTimes.

Coping with Un-settled-ness…

Yeah, I know… today’s post is somewhat random. But it’s my voice… what’s occupying my thoughts… it’s who I am this week… and part of me needed a connection to the past this week.

We are strangers in a strange land… living somewhere between two homes: Canada which is no longer really home and France which never truly will be, in quite the same way.

Missionary Kids are often referred to as Third Culture Kids: living very much in two cultures, their passport culture and their mission field culture, while feeling somewhat ‘external’ – never quite at home – in both. Well… we’re Third Culture Adults and it just felt good to reconnect to a bit of New Brunswick this week and to music that animated our days during more ‘normal’ times (whatever normal is); times during which we lived in our own house, in the city I’d grown up in, surrounded by a familiarity and a sense of settled-ness I’m often nostalgic for.

There’s really only one thing that acts as our North Star in times of unsettledness… knowing that we are here at the call of someone who is faithful and upon whom we can rely for all things – whether the path forward is clear, cluttered or seemingly -at times- calamitous.

I don’t always feel it… but that verse is true, regardless of my feelings: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me…”

Thanks for sharing my unsettledness today.
God is good.

He provides country drives, laced with poetry, music and good company…
everyday miracles and proof of his Love.

3 responses

  1. This is a heartfelt post, Mike and I agree with the words “Manifest your discontent all you want, but don’t prohibit me from doing my job.” I had felt like that during my working life but it seems words are never enough for some it has to be actions anyways all of that at the beginning of your day had a silver lining…I hope you have peaceful Sunday 🙂

    • Thank you Carol! Sunday was delightful… Liz had pork roast in the crockpot all night so pulled pork with a teryaki-ish sauce was on the menu, followed by a Sunday afternoon nap and several hours of tatting in the evening.

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