Monday, August 22, 2005

When Certainty Is Contradicted By Truth

By Arville Earl

On our return trip from Tours back to Paris, we were recalling the highlights of our adventure over the past couple of days. Our friend, Phill, who was driving, remarked that we were really making good progress on the road. We would have plenty of time to get to the airport, return the rental car, and get them checked in for their return flight to the States.

Shelia and Gloria were in the back seat with the map. They would ask now and then how we were doing and if we were still on track. I assured them that we were. I knew the number of the toll-way we were on and that it would lead us soon to the freeway loop around Paris, and then to the airport.

After some time, Shelia made reference to the fact that it had been some time since we had seen a road sign indicating that we were getting closer to our destination. Being absolutely certain and with resolute confidence that we were on the right road, I disregarded her suggestion that perhaps we had taken a wrong turn somewhere along the way. I insisted that we continue on our present course.

The sky had been overcast for most of the day, but as the late afternoon approached, the sun began to break through. It was at that moment that Shelia asked, “If we are supposed to be heading north, at this time of the day, shouldn’t the sun be on the left side of the car?” That’s when it hit me! We were on the right road, but heading in the opposite direction.

How could this have happened? I had no explanation. I had nowhere to go. There were no holes to crawl into. I had been wrong, but not only that, I had been so obstinate about being right. So now what could I do? I was just there, caught in this stark, fallacious predicament. It is a profoundly bewildering and humbling experience to have ones certainty contradicted by truth. Are there some theological applications here??

Shelia took the initiative to call a longtime friend who lives in Paris and who makes countless trips to the airport. He gave us excellent directions and wise counsel that helped us to avoid the major areas of traffic congestion. Everyone in the car kept assuring me that everything was alright, and they let me back in the car. HA! We were able to make it to the airport in time to drop Phill and Gloria at their departure gate, return the rental car before the office closed, and catch the shuttle to our hotel for the night. I am happy to report that Shelia and I are still married and have just celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary. And, as far as we know, not having heard anything to the contrary, our friends, Gloria and Phill Martin, are still our friends.

Our Visit With Mme. Joelle Blot

After attending Baptist World Alliance Meeting in Birmingham, England, we spent a few days in France with friends, Phill and Gloria Martin. In Tours, we visited with Mme. Joelle Blot, our French tutor from the time we were in language study in Tours, France, 25 years ago. We reminisced about our children (who were only 9 and 5 when we there), our funny language stories, and the times our families spent together during that year. What a special treat – and we were so thrilled to be able to share that part of our lives with Phill and Gloria, too.

When Joelle and I saw each other, it was like 25 years had never passed, and when we parted, we both cried. We both said that it was even harder to say “good-bye” this time because we are fairly sure we will not see each other again in this life. When she left – she said, “until the next time – even though it be in heaven”.

We ended those few days in Tours by driving past our old apartment and taking a picture of the gate to the Catholic School where Alan and Amy started school in Tours in 1980. That gate and a pair of blue French shoes were the only things that Amy remembers of that first six months. Alan probably remembers more because he was older, but that gate was significant to him, as well. For the first few weeks, Amy and I cried every day because I had to leave her standing at that gate in the cold. Alan swears he didn't cry, but it was difficult for him, too.

I am not sure how much Amy learned at "matrenelle” (kindergarten) or how much I learned in language school that first month. We all agreed that there was only one way for things to go --- and that was “up”. The second and successive months were much better, and the blue French shoes took some of the pain away.

Our daughter and family

This is a recent picture of our daughter, Amy, and her family (Christopher, Elijah, Anna, and Sophia).

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Recent Trip to England and France

Tower of Charlemagne, Tours, France

This is our first posting on our BlogSpot. We have just returned from a trip to England and France. It has been 25 years since we were in Tours for language study at the Institut de Tourraine.