La vie est belle...
Updated: Aug 13, 2022
Every day I marvel at the beauty that surrounds me. Yes, I live in the south of France, and yes, it's breathtakingly gorgeous here. Ancient streets, crumbling limestone walls, and buildings with the date 1642 etched over the door are part of my daily world.
Not to mention the wildly steep mountain cliffs that soar high where eagles fly just across the river from my home.
Vineyards, wildflowers- from vivid crimson coquelicot poppies to brilliant golden sunflowers- surround me. I often feel I've been absorbed into a Monet painting, and I can understand just why Vincent painted those tournesols again and again and again.
And the lavender! Once harvested from our garden, we bundle it into bouquets that fill our home with fragrance (and keep away scorpions!) Dried buds are later stuffed into homemade sachets that bring summer into our drawers and closets all year long.
So yes, this is a sort of paradise for which I'm continually grateful. I believe it is all just a tiny reflection of our Creator God, who is the origin of beauty and LIFE. It's a joy to discover deeper meanings and connections through what is seen into hidden truths- like stepping through a door into a treasure hunt designed by our loving heavenly Papa.
I'm wired to look for connections-past, present, and future. Living in history-steeped St. Hippolyte du Fort is a source of constant wonder and nourishment…and questions!
If only the walls of my 500-year-old home, the Château de Planque, could talk! I'm dying to know the stories of those who have lived here before me.
Archives tell me that as far back as 1444, a noble family named de Guiraud de la Planque lived in the Château. What was life like for them? Did Madame de Guiraud give birth to her eight children in what is now my bedroom?
And how did the Château occupants react in 1683 when Louis XIV sent 1200 dragoon soldiers down the street that leads to my front door? And when they moved in to force the Protestant occupants (Huguenots) to convert to Catholicism?
(In fact, I'm almost done with a historical novel based on that incident- more on that later.)
Then, in 1944, SS Nazis thundered down the same road, searching for young men hiding in our hills and caves from obligatory work service in Germany for the war machine. Did the family who dwelled in the Château then hide? (I would have been tempted to…or at very least the children.)
Hitler's troops set up their headquarters in the Château and inflicted severe consequences to those accused of avoiding the "STO" (service travail obligatoire.) It is recorded that at least one family accused of hiding young men was forced to watch one of them be brutally hung from the railroad bridge that crosses the front of the property.
And is the rumor true that up to thirty Jewish children disappeared into the Château, never to be seen again?
Today, the Château de Planque is home to an international Christian ministry training center run by my husband and myself. We welcome all nations and ages to learn God's ways and take his love to a hurting world. It is now a place of LIFE and joy-redemption.
I invite you to join me as I wander through centuries, streets, and seasons in this small but significant corner of the Cévennes region. Delight in weekly open markets where fresh produce, brilliant flowers, and…uh…mattresses (!) are available, where people gather and chat (from a safe social distance, no traditional three bisous kisses allowed in our current pandemic world.)
There is beauty to be discovered around every corner, through every door, and across every field. There is joy in the simple, the ordinary, as well as the grand and mysterious for those who have eyes to see and hearts open to receive it all as a gift.
Join me on the journey!