A Travellerspoint blog



And the sublime Mont St-Michel

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On the northern coast of France, the 17th century ramparts of St. Malo face the elegant chateaux of Dinard across the Rance estuary. Sailing between them gives you a stiff neck because your head turns back and forth and back and forth taking in these magnificent sights. But we weren’t to see them for long; we left quite early to drive to Mont St-Michel via the lovely medieval town of Dinan, surrounded by beautiful ramparts and planted with lovely and well-planned flower gardens.

Hope was last in Mont St-Michel with her son Bruce in 1983; Bill last visited in 1989. Both of us remember the long causeway crowded with tour busses. No longer so! Because the sea was silting up and connecting this magnificent island with the coast, forward thinking engineers have reconstructed the area, removing the causeway that blocked water flow, and adding a gentle low bridge (along with multiple other complex structures) that allow the water to go freely around the island and wash the silt away. Finally we ate omelets at Mere Poulard and returned to the Silver Whisper.


Posted by HopeEakins 08:37 Archived in France Comments (0)


Into the wine country

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Another adventure: exploring the magnificent wine regions around Bordeaux. We took a van to Château Fonplégade, a stunning estate in St. Émilion. Oh, how stunning! The vineyard produces a Grand Cru Classé, and every vine, every leaf, every flower bud is meticulously groomed and very beautiful. We traveled through the chalky paths on Range Rovers, riding by the 13th century fountain that gives the Château its name and the little patches of flowers that punctuate the beautiful ranks of vines. We were greeted with a Sauvignon Blanc - surprise - from the owners’ vineyard in the Napa Valley. Denise and Stephen Adams are Americans who fell in love with this ancient vineyard and bought it in 2004. The Adamses must have loved being vintners because they founded Adamvs in California in 2008. When asked how the traditional French received these newcomers, the staff rep suggested that there was at first much suspicion and hesitancy --- all counteracted by the chateau’s commitment to biodynamic cultivation and to maintaining the high classification of their wines. The Adamses also replaced one of the château’s towers, destroyed in WWII, and they completely rebuilt the former stables converting them into a state of the art wine cellar.

Château Fonplègade is an intriguing mixture of the old and new. Beautiful oak barrels lie next to modern cement egg shaped fermentation vats – the latter impart a slight minerality to the wine. The orangery is stunning. There we tasted a Pomerol from another Adams vineyard nearby and the remarkable Château Fonplègade. Oh, my goodness!

We went on to the totally charming village of St. Èmilion where we enjoyed an abundant French petit déjuner at L’Envers du Décor, along with another delicious St. Èmilion. We snoozed on the way back to the ship!

Posted by HopeEakins 00:31 Archived in France Comments (0)


Oh, what a beautiful city

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The Silver Whisper docked at Le Verdon on the Atlantic Coast. Some of us took a bus to Bordeaux, while the ship sailed up the Garonne River. Our bus route wound through the beautiful vineyards of the Medoc where we stopped at Chateau Margaux and then went into the center of this magnificent city. There we bought CD's to thank the ship's resident pianist who has played faithfully for our worship, had lunch, visited the Cathedral (it was open!), went to a fine bookstore, and then sat for a while in the XVIIth century Église Notre-Dame and watched a spot of sunlight travel through the nave from an oculus above.

In the city, we walked on pedestrian street after pedestrian street. Since silent trams whisk folks to their destinations, cars can be shunted outside the city center, leaving beautiful vistas and easy walking. About six o'clock, we walked our way back to the ship, now berthed in the center of town, so exploring the city will be very easy. See the photos below taken from the ship's deck.large_27722090-76e5-11e9-b091-eba206875f65.jpglarge_ac106f10-76e4-11e9-bf03-8f7d38f48e54.jpglarge_451e9010-76e5-11e9-b091-eba206875f65.jpglarge_4addd0b0-76e5-11e9-b091-eba206875f65.jpglarge_24108af0-7725-11e9-8877-6f94025f0798.jpg2d3a2a40-7726-11e9-89ba-7f5faa110275.jpglarge_1e5f2d00-7725-11e9-8877-6f94025f0798.jpglarge_dc7df100-7724-11e9-8877-6f94025f0798.jpg

Posted by HopeEakins 08:30 Archived in France Comments (1)


on Sunday, April 7, The Fifth Sunday of Lent in Mamoudzou, Mayotte

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WORSHIP Aboard the Silver Whisper April 7, 2019

HYMN: Now thank we all our God

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us pray. Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life, grant us so to know your Son Jesus to be the way, the truth, and the life that we may steadfastly follow in his steps who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Psalm 130: 1, 4-7

Out of the depths have I called to you, O LORD; LORD, hear my voice;
let your ears consider well the voice of my supplication.
I wait for the LORD; my soul waits for him;
in his word is my hope.
My soul waits for the LORD, more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
O Israel, wait for the LORD,
for with the LORD there is mercy;
With him there is plenteous redemption,
and he shall redeem Israel from all their sins.

A Reading from the Gospel of John

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. When Jesus arrived [there], he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.” When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” (John 11:1, 17-44)

A Reflection The Reverend Hope H. Eakins

So where is Lazarus today? That dead man who was raised to life? When Jesus commanded, “Lazarus, come out!” Lazarus did. So where do you think he is now? The answer is painfully obvious. Lazarus isn’t around because Lazarus died – maybe a week later or a year later or a decade later – but Lazarus died like the rest of us.

So why did Jesus bother to raise Lazarus in the first place? Well, I think that Jesus commanded the dead man to rise in order to teach us that death has no dominion over us. Jesus is not promising that we will never die, or giving us hope that all our loved ones will come back to life some day. Instead, he is saying in the most dramatic way he can that death does not have the last word. We know that our bodies are mortal and will return to the dust some day, but Jesus is telling us that, like Lazarus, we are also immortal, and that since we have life eternal ahead of us, we can rejoice right now.

It is hard to rejoice in a promise that won’t come true until after we are dead. It is hard to rejoice in eternal life when what we want is more life that isn’t quite so eternal. Several Ash Wednesdays ago, I preached on repentance. Repentance means turning around, I said, coming back to God, because God is patient and kind and always willing to forgive. I was preaching words of promise, words of hope, but a little girl named Hannah didn't hear them that way. What Hannah heard were the fearful words I spoke when I put ashes on her forehead. “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return,” I said, and Hannah was frightened. Her mother brought her to me, a sobbing little bundle, scared of living, scared of dying. “I don’t want to repent,” she said, “I don’t want to die. I don’t want to go to heaven.”

I know how Hannah felt, and we all do. Because we have no experience of what lies beyond life, death is terrifying. When we lose someone we love, all we have is the sadness and the emptiness, the anguish of it all. Yes, we have Jesus’ promise of eternal life, but it is only a promise.

When Lazarus’s sister Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died,” Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha already knew about the resurrection on the last day, but she wanted to know how to get through the anguish and loneliness and emptiness in her heart that day. Jesus didn't reassure Martha with promises that Lazarus had gone to a better place; he didn’t deliver well-turned phrases about the good deeds and the memories of Lazarus that would live on. Instead he said, “I am resurrection and I am life.” Stick with me, Martha, and you shall have life now, true life, not life lived in fear, but life lived in joy.

Jesus did not, does not, want Mary or Martha or any one of us to wait until the last day to celebrate. He told Martha that resurrection and life was standing right there before her. He told her that her mourning, her dry hard soul, her emptiness, her fear, could be redeemed and transformed. And than to show her that faith and hope and love could be raised up from death, Jesus raised up Lazarus.

Those who mourn can’t see beyond their grief. They wait to hear a footstep that never comes; they long to hear a voice that never speaks. Breaking into that despair comes Jesus, promising, “If you believe in me, you will have life.” Of course you’ll die, but while you live, you’ll be really alive. Jesus promises us eternal life that begins NOW.

It is life, not death, which matters. So when Christians put their hope in Jesus Christ, they don’t send their bodies to frozen in cryogenic chambers or build pyramids to keep their mortal remains intact. Christians are people engaged in living. They come to worship the one who IS resurrection and life. They build hospitals and orphanages and homeless shelters and soup kitchens, because life matters, and because the way that they receive God’s love is by sharing God’s love. Christians are people who make merry, rejoicing that God is with them always, in life and in death. Christians are people who believe that death cannot kill them.

Mary said the same thing to Jesus that Martha had said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus didn’t give any explanations to Mary; he only wept with her. When Jesus shed his tears over Lazarus, he was weeping with every one of us who has ever lost a loved one. Surely he has born our grief and carried our sorrow. Surely he helps us cry, helps us cry with hope, tells us that we are never alone, even when, especially when, we cry.

To ease Martha’s despair Jesus offered a theological answer: I am resurrection and I am life. Fear not, Martha, for I have promised Lazarus and I promise you life immortal. To answer Mary’s sorrow, Jesus offered his tears.

And who is to say which is the more remarkable – a man who raises the dead … or a God who weeps?

The Prayers

Almighty God, we give you thanks that we are in your hands and that death never has the last word. Give us courage to take risks in the confidence that you are beside us. O Lord, hear our cry;
Our hope is in you.

Bless the leaders of all nations with wisdom and valor to see and serve the needs of the world.
O Lord, hear our cry;
Our hope is in you.

Open our ears to hear the cry of those bound by human trafficking and slavery yet today. Grant us courage to act in your Name to bring them hope and new life. O Lord, hear our cry;
Our hope is in you.

We entrust into your never-failing care the sick and lonely whom we hold in our hearts. Lift the burdens of the poor; strengthen the addicted in their work of recovery; heal the suffering, and comfort those who mourn.
O Lord, hear our cry;
Our hope is in you.

Protect those who travel, children at risk, parents whose sons and daughters have gone astray, and all who stand at crossroads. O Lord, hear our cry;
Our hope is in you.

Shield our armed forces and the police, firefighters, security guards and public safety officials who defend the peace. O Lord, hear our cry;
Our hope is in you.

Inspire artists and musicians, actors and dancers, authors and composers, to use their gifts to inspire your people and illumine the questions of our time. O Lord, hear our cry;
Our hope is in you.

Forgive us our sins, strengthen us to do what is right, and help us make amends for our wrongdoing.
O Lord, hear our cry;
Our hope is in you.

Summing up all our petitions and all our thanksgivings, we pray in the words Jesus taught us

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name
Thy Kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil
For thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

The Blessing
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit, and may the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

HYMN: Amazing grace

Officiants: The Reverend William J. Eakins, The Reverend Hope H. Eakins
Altar Guild: Jane Kline, Directress; Jill Ingham
Music: Alex Manev

Expected time of next service: Palm Sunday, April 14 at 9:15 am

Posted by HopeEakins 02:04 Archived in France Comments (0)


Suddenly we are in Europe!

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Mamoudzou is the largest city on Mayotte. Mayotte is a little (144 square miles) group of little islands between Madagascar and Mozambique. Along with the islands of a country called Comoros, Mayotte used to be part of France, but when the Comoros claimed independence in 1975, Mayotte voted to stay as a French Department, just like Côte d’Or and Dordogne. The Comoros still claim Mayotte as their own, but nobody, including the UN agrees. Being a department very good deal for the people; this is a very poor place and the French aid is critical.

We sailed into a beautiful harbor, dotted with small yachts and were greeted in the port by dancing children. Boarding a huge ferry we crossed from Grand Terre to Petite Terre and went by bus to the village of Labattoir (this should have been a clue: abattoir=slaughterhouse) and thence to Lake Dziani. We climbed through a trash heap to a steep rock strewn path for 20 minutes in 99 degree heat to see the grand vista and .... the lake. You can see our view below, the small green crater lake with the white scum on it. We were invited to take photos of the spectacular panorama. You’re looking at it.

Next to Badamiers, a beach at low tide, with at least 150 feet of mud and broken things and garbage littering the shore. Then to a local restaurant where we were given a hacked off coconut, and finally to a vegetable market. Once back on Grande Terre we encountered a clothing market, with locals picking through bales of old tee shirts and children’s pants, likely donated by some of you.

All in all, we don’t recommend a visit here. Trivia was pretty good, however. When asked “What sport involves using a squidge to make a squat?” our brilliant teammate Michael Ingham knew the answer: tiddley winks.

Posted by HopeEakins 09:11 Archived in France Comments (1)

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