Touchdown to take-off was 45 hours. Most of those were spent in meetings or sleeping; but one evening did include a walk and dinner in town. It was a most beautiful weekend escape filled with pieces of what is not here. Hearty breads and tender meats, fluffy beds and comfy chairs, aged cheese and old beers, modern construction and stately buildings. And, just to make my soul smile, there were snowflakes outside the meeting room for a mere one hour. A few (iPhone) photos from the walk in town. Thank you Fetzer Institute for excellent meetings and a weekend escape.
I do not think I have been to the Frankfurt airport since I was in college and was returning home to Amman, Jordan for Christmas or summer holidays. Where the Amsterdam airport has long been a familiar friend, the Frankfort airport remains a mystery. If you stumble upon the correct place, you are suddenly graced with wonderful German breads and meats and beers. Having not yet unlocked the mystery of this airport, that stumbling often takes longer than should be necessary.
But, to the point, The Cornetto. When I got to college I remember someone telling me that the American “Drumstick” was similar, the ‘same thing.’ Oh, that can only be said if you have not had a Cornetto. Here is the magic of The Cornetto: creamy ice cream, rich chocolate, a few perfect nuts, and a crunchy cone that has its own perfect flavor. It is not a thin dip of chocolate on top with inexpensive peanuts sparsely placed. It is just the right amount of chocolate in thick drizzles, nuts determined by the specific type of Corneetto purchased, and the ice cream not watered down. But the grande finale is this: you know you have a real one when the cone itself is crunchy as if the cone is ignorant of the fact it was all put together in a factor and should be getting soggy in your hands as the ice cream melts. They manage this by the finest layer of chocolate on the inside of the cone.
Perfection dear friends, perfection. And an instant transport back straight to my childhood where The Cornetto was a happy treat. Maybe it is even more of a treat today when found in the Frankfurt airport – along with its flavor and texture comes the flood of memories. Corner stores and family vacations. Most of my family likes the Magnum more (more ice cream and chocolate, but no crunchy cone), but to each their own. We ate them together, that’s what matters.
Sometime ago I wrote a short article for an online magazine about maintaining community in the midst of a life that has me constantly on the road. I talked about it not being an easy journey, but that it was indeed possible if one was intentional. Lately I have been reminded of those words as I work to build community, to build a home, here in Rwanda. Community is something that is found and built; it is not happenstance. In takes time – it is an investment. It takes perseverance to find, to build, to maintain. Sometimes there is a precious gift of stepping into a community that is waiting for you and welcomes with open arms. Even then, it takes time to make it your own.
I do not know any perfect formula for this process – but there are a few things I will do until I fall into bed exhausted. Coffee dates, weekly meetings (Bible studies, pub quizzes, long walks – whatever it is that works for you), and gathering over food in my home. It does not take a grand excuse for people to gather – sometimes a small one is even better – it is just an excuse to share in a piece of life together. And from there shared history begins.
I smile because on Sunday some of us gathered for a picnic in my backyard. It is dry season and the grass is dry and the little ants wanted our food. But it was sunny and warm and conversations drowned the music. In that moment, there was a piece of shared history. Maybe when the rains start, we will gather inside over soup and think back to that time we lounged under the shade tree when the sun made the afternoon hot.
As I write this, a Jars of Clay song came on, and smiled at how perfect it is for today’s thoughts, “In the shelter of each other, we will live.” May we all be so blessed that this would be true for us.
My kitchen light has been out for about a week now. In this kitchen of mine, there is exactly one lightbulb – a florescent tube. In so many ways, this is not what I would have chosen, but it is what I have. It worked great until the day I thought the light bulb burned out.
I had no spare bulbs (is it actually called a light tube?) in my pantry. It was a busy week, and I did not feel like carving out the time to run to town to get a bulb because nearly everything takes longer than anticipated. At night I used a candle or headlamp as needed in the kitchen. Somehow this seemed neither surprising or particularly frustrating.
On Saturday, I got a bulb plus a few extras for future use. Then on Sunday my housemate and I tried to change the bulb which included standing on a not particularly stable table and hoping the light switch was off because the wiring is a far from perfect 220V.
New lightbulb in and it still doesn’t work. Part of the end of the fixture looks sketchy and rusty. Did we not do it correctly (how does one mess this up)? Or maybe the fixture is simply busted. Now it is Tuesday night and those candles and headlamps continue to work well. It is just another day. I guess it is time to break down and call our handyman. I’m sure I will do that sometime later this week…
Tonight I find myself curled up in bed exhausted from the happenings of the week, watching some old TV shows on my laptop, drinking fizzing water and enjoying some Swiss chocolate. Which makes me want to laugh out loud: almost my entire life, I have been indifferent to chocolate. It was not something that tasted horrible, but why eat something that the taste buds simply do not care about when there is so much goodness in the world?
Why you ask? Well, because it is assumed that everyone likes chocolate, and so I have spent my life eating bits and pieces along the way. Over the years, boyfriends have been baffled and roommates have been thankful as they benefited from gifts passed along. But here I am, eating chocolate in bed.
A friend here believes that all meals worth being called a meal should end with a bite of chocolate. She loves it so, and I cannot bear the thought of not sharing in her pleasure. Thus, I eat a fair amount of chocolate. A few months later and I find that a chocolate chip cookie hits the spot and a small piece of Swiss chocolate hidden in the pantry is simply perfect. I would like to blame it on the exhaustion, but I fear I am developing a taste for the stuff. Secretly, part of me is glad.