Tag Archives: Geneva

The things that keep me up nights

This picture is from Geneva.
Ever since I took it I have been wondering, losing sleep to wonder:
Who changes the red handkerchief when it gets dirty?



See you along the Trail.

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Too late I rose.
Too soon you left.

Farewell forever hangs


between us.

11 May 2011
Swiss International Airlines Flight 022

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C-16, GVA

Walking down the jetway,
the long, long jetway,
that led, not to Tipperary,
but to Gate C-16, GVA,
I watched my fellow travelers
and I noticed –
could not help but notice –
colorful bags, clutched with care,
clearly filled with souvenirs,
reminders of what was done and
memories of what had happened
while in Switzerland.
Sometimes I wondered what they carried;
sometimes I knew;
and sometimes, even knowing, I still pondered:
how much more nearly Geneva
would I remember,
how much more clearly events and experiences
would I call to mind,
how much more dearly images of friends
would fill my heart,
had I but been wise enough
to purchase

11 May 2011
Boarding Swiss International Airlines Flight 022
in Geneva 

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The Fighter

I am not much for boxing.

I don’t turn off boxing when it comes on during the Olympics; I don’t pay close attention, either.

I am certain I have never watched a professional match from beginning to end. I am fairly certain I have not watched enough individual rounds combined to constitute a whole fight – unless that fight was a first-round knockout.

But on today’s return plane from Geneva, I choose to watch The Fighter. I had heard much about the film. And what I heard was good. And I have always liked Christian Bale. So when it appeared as one of the choices, I decided to give it a go.

I am glad I did. It did not disappoint. It did not convert, I won’t be buying the DVD (a similar experience took place years ago: I watched The Boxer because it featured Daniel-Day Lewis), but it definitely did not disappoint. And is worthy of the praise and nominations it received.

Boxing may be the presence, but the film is about family, loyalty, courage, and redemption. And you can’t go too far wrong with those themes when you have a good story and strong cast. The Fighter does.

And it has Christian Bale. And Christian Bale can act. The others in the cast also perform quite well. Melissa Leo is amazing. Mark Wahlberg gets top billing and delivers.

But this is Bales’ movie. And Christian Bale can act.

The boxing is a bit violent – the language a tad rough (but hey, Christian Bale’s character was a crack addict) – but it is well worth a look.

See you along the Trail.

11 May 2011
Swiss International Air Lines 022

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That one tear

“They are for my wife.”

My lack of languages other haunts me when I travel. Other people know multiple languages. I carry only English – and that not well – plus some Sesame Street Spanish. A smattering of high school French,  limited in vocabulary, atrocious in pronunciation, travels with me.

“They are for my wife.”

Despite my language limits I do remember enough French to know that is what he said.

We were on the number 5 bus headed from Grand-Sacconex to the Church of Scotland in Geneva.

He, well he must have been going to see his wife.

Tufts of white-gray hair poked out from beneath his gray hat. He wore a gray-checked suit. The bright flowers wrapped in tissue and cellophane and clutched tightly in his age-spotted left hand offered a striking contrast to the pervasive grayness.

He slid across the bench to sit by the window and with a gesture of his free hand offered the vacated seat beside him. “Merci,” I said as I declined. He shrugged and turned to look out the window, lost in thought.

A woman entered at the next stop and took the seat. She spoke, complimenting the beauty of the flowers, or so I presume because of his answer.

He did not make eye contact as he responded with a simple phrase that I could understand. “They are for my wife.”

His seat-mate tried to make conversation with him. He replied in monosyllables, his gaze remained fixed outside the bus although it was clear he looked not to see but to retreat, remember, reflect.

At one point she asked me a question. Having no idea what she had asked, I turned to those dim recesses where reside what remains of four years of French reside to find the appropriate response. “Je ne sais pas.” Feelings of incompetence and arrogance washing over me, I looked away.

When she left the bus, a couple stops later, he did not repeat his offer of the seat, but continued to stare out the window.

Then I saw it. In the corner of his right eye. A tear. One solitary tear. 

At that moment, the bus pulled to a stop across from a medical facility and he began to move, struggling to cross the bench and keep his grip on the flowers. I moved to offer to hold them, but saw the tear again and thought better. I took his elbow.

He stood up, straightened his shoulders, and exited the bus.

And I was left to wonder about the memories, the pain, the grief, the love contained in that one tear.

See you along the Trail.

Bus 5
8 May 2011
Mother’s Day

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Worship in Geneva – 8 May 2011

Worship today was at the Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) in Geneva. The congregation meets in the Auditoire de Calvin which is next door to Calvin’s church. The service there is in French. The service at the Church of Scotland is in English.

Interestingly enough, many peoples and places, nations and races were present in the congregation. The presence of the Executive Committee of the World Communion of Reformed Churches enhanced the diversity – but it was already present.

See you along the Trail.

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A small puddle of orange

All orange.

That was the color of the cards.

Clapping followed.

The Executive Committee of the World Communion of Reformed Churches is meeting in Geneva. They started on May 5.

In their discussion, they use a consensus model that involves showing cards to indicate support for or dissent from a matter under consideration.

Orange is good. It represents support. Go for the orange!

The Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations also represents the (WCRC) at the UN. Ryan and I wrote a report of our work and I was asked here to present it. After some travel misadventures in New York, I arrived this morning (Geneva time). This afternoon (Geneva time) I fought off jet lag and made the report.

I spoke.

Questions were asked.

In a bold move, I asked a question of my report.

Well, OK, it wasn’t a question of my report. More a question raised by my report.

Then moderator asked if people supported the report.

And a sea of orange cards appeared.

Well maybe more of a small puddle since there are only 40 or so members.

But all the cards were orange!

And then they clapped.

Over the next few days, we will explore together how to deepen and expand this partnership. Tomorrow starts with worship at the Church of Scotland in Geneva. We are staying in the John Knox International Center so that seems fitting.

See you along the trail!

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