I continue my reflections on what I will miss here in Paris.
To be honest, February is the difficult month for me and many residents of our great city. With a slight vitamin D deficiency, the winter months of clouds and darkness do not bode well for my body or spirit at times.
Since I am not an avid skier, my plan over these past four years has been to travel to warmer climates and sunnier skies in February. Many Parisians take to the slopes during the 2-week holiday break in February. The Swiss and French Alps are among the most beautiful mountain rangers in the world and are located only a few short hours from Paris. For me, a 3-hour TGV ride to the South of France to visit places such as Cassis, Montpelier or Nice provides a nice change of atmosphere and pace during the normally dark days this month.
Of course, February 14 is Valentine’s Day and indeed there is no city more romantic than Paris. While the city does not celebrate this day quite like in America, one cannot go astray making a reservation at your local bistro with that special friend, significant other or spouse. The general ambiance of French restaurants or wine bars reflects romanticism at all times, but add a nice box of fine French chocolates, some freshly cut flowers and a bottle of wine, you will have a Valentine’s Day to remember! Although many could argue this description is a typical weekend date here in Paris!
Personally, I have been blessed each February to attend the Youth Pastors Conference sponsored by the AICEME (Associate of Churches in Europe and the Middle East).
Each year, my friends and colleagues from other international churches in our region gather together for a few days of fellowship, worship, learning and inspiration. It can be a lonely path serving in a large city away from your home country and culture. Fortunately for me, during my time here at ACP I have met incredible men and women serving in similar roles and contexts. I have cherished my time with them and can honestly say that their encouragement and example throughout the years, and especially during our times together in February, provided me much-needed support in my own ministry here at ACP. My last conference with these youth pastors will be in Basel, Switzerland and I eagerly look forward to connecting and reflecting together.
Through February can feel long, dark and dreary at times, it is helpful to know that the days are actually getting longer. The darkest days are behind us in fact. I believe this is true for our city as well in light of the tragic terror events in January
Spring will arrive and light will shine forth through the clouds increasingly as the days progress. and winter melts into spring. As it does, may our hearts be lifted up with hope and our lives reflect God’s love and light.