Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Sometimes You Don't Need Paris

"If one always expects perfection or nothing,
one will always end up with nothing."
Edith Schaeffer

This past week I took a vacation.  Just a teeny tiny getaway for the cost of a small cup of coffee and an apple scone at Panera.  My favorite table was available, the one that sits by the large window... perfect for people watching.

I pulled my "purse book"* out and began reading a very interesting chapter about Jonathan Edward's sermons on Heaven.  Quiet.  Bliss.  Much needed.  One of my Happy Places.

I picked up the cell phone and texted my daughter that I was at Panera and included this thought that popped into my mind... "Sometimes you don't need Paris".  I've never been there but she has and I knew she would understand what I meant.  At least I hoped she would.

Paris means magic.  Paris is where one goes to delight the senses.  Paris is "always a good thing".  Paris means more than the destination.  Paris... to my way of thinking... is bliss for one who loves coffee and good food and art and literature and chatting with someone I love at an outside cafe table.  (England is still my tea time destination but that is for another day.)  ;)

However, if one always longs for Paris and never looks at that which is closer for their bliss, then for many of us... joy will always be fleeting.  There are those of us who have realized that Truth along life's path.  For instance, Sarah Mae's latest book** is about that desire for Paris and how she came to the same conclusion, finding those desires met closer to home.  It truly was a book I read "to know I am not alone".

God taught me long ago... after I stopped stomping my feet and pouting and reminding him this is NOT THE ABUNDANT LIFE and all... that one can bring a little of Paris into their days if they do an attitude check.  And England.  And the Swiss Alps.  And Italy.  And all those other places where I will never be able to travel.

I may not actually visit up close and personal a destination but through the miracle of modern day television, I can see those places.  Through reading books with a country as a background, I can almost feel what it is like to be there when a skilled author describes the land and the culture and the food and the mountains or the seashore or the corner cafe.

I can take a cookbook off my shelf or borrow one from the library and follow a recipe that takes me to far away places right in my own kitchen.  Add a little garam masala and I'm in India.  A sprinkling of sumac in and over the hummus takes me to the Middle East.  Oregano and basil reminds me of Italy and the course mustard from Aldi's brings Germany into the mixture.

I can make something rather complex by watching Julia Child or a less authentic (but just as tasty) recipe from The Little Paris Kitchen cookbook, light a candle, pour a glass of wine or sparkling grape juice (according to whom I've invited for dinner), line a wicker basket with a red gingham cloth napkin in which to place baguettes, and wallah!... Paris... at home.

For you see, one of the greatest benefits of believing this world is not all there is... knowing in my heart and soul and mind that Eternity exists... I can get by with less than perfection.  The fact I won't see the longed for Swiss Alps, that desire which took root the first time I read L'Abri... that's okay.  No Umbria or Tuscany in person?  That's okay.  No Oxford or Lake District... sigh, yes... even that is okay.  No Paris cafe in person?  Fine.

For I have learned to do what I can with what He has given.  To say thank you and show my appreciation for an hour at Panera as much as I would say... a week in Paris.  For all good gifts come from above, no matter what they are.

As I constantly remind the melancholic I live with... sometimes all you can give God back is your attitude.  No Paris?  Panera will do...  Until that Day when all is made Perfect.

Maranatha, Lord Jesus.

*Purse Book - The book I currently keep in my purse to read while waiting so as to not go into severe book withdrawal if one is not available.  Currently it is Stephen Nichols' Heaven on Earth: Capturing Jonathan Edward's Vision of Living in Between.

** Longing for Paris: One Woman's Search for Joy, Beauty, and Adventure- Right Where She Is by Sarah Mae.

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Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

This reminds me of what Paul says about learning to be content in all things. I try to remember to 'see' God's blessings in my everyday life. To see them as gifts.

Great post!

Ps- I am married to a melancholy man too!

Ann said...

A good reminder for me to live in and enjoy today -- for today is all I am sure to have. Thanks again ... Blessings.

Michele M./ Finch Rest said...

You absolutely nailed it, ma'am. You have it all perfectly right.

WE are in control of our own happiness, and seriously I couldn't have said it better than you have today. In this age of more is better and feeling always behind and always short, well-
I am pleased to say this was a truly wonderful post, and one I will be sharing with family and friends later today. Thank you. God bless! ♥

Sherry said...

this post, dear brenda, is worthy of a second and third read - slow and savoring. thank you for sharing your heart from a present blessed place in life and reminding us, as deanna as encouraged, to be content in all things. beautiful.

ellen b. said...

Wonderful thoughts and inspiration Brenda. Love that...Panera will do.
I've said "Maranatha, Lord Jesus" a few times this week. Amen

terricheney said...

I keep a purse book and a car Suduko puzzle book so I'm never ever without some way to amuse myself if my husband's meeting or conversation gets extended. It's kept me happy for years upon years and has made waiting the most pleasurable thing.

My Granny never traveled but boy did she know the world. She purchased the whole series of Time Life books about the countries of the world, nature, cultures and such. THey were wonderful books that had photos enough for a child to enjoy them and the text to keep an adult 's attention. It was among the many ways that she continually learned things all through out her life. She swore that in order to keep her mind active and healthy she required young people and to learn something new every single day. She was a wonderful woman.

Barbara said...

I think maybe most women have to learn this lesson at one time or another (or several times) as we navigate the twists and turns in life. Thank you for phrasing it to beautifully.

Vee said...

Odd that just yesterday I was thinking about all the places and sights this world has to offer that I will never see. Then that still whisper..."someday." I got kind of excited about that thought. Your Panera shop sounds really special. So glad that you had some time there to read and relax. Still praying for good news from that plumber.

Lee Ann said...

Wonderful post! You have such a way with words that speak to our hearts!

tealady said...

My Paris is a bench overlooking Lake Michigan, I live about 8 blocks from my spot. I try to get there about once a week, just me my tea and Jesus. What great talks we have.

Anonymous said...

Priceless! A new Panera recently opened in my area. I don't usually go by myself, but will have to try that sometime. Thanks for sharing....
Blessings and hope your plumbing problem is easily fixed! (Appreciate all your advice about stretching water, too!)
Laura C. (WA)

Judy said...

I was blessed to do some travel when I was younger but circumstances have changed.....

I have discovered foreign language films are an extraordinary means to travel into beautiful landscapes, and enter into wonderful stories too. A bonus is that many other cultures still have sensibilities around what content is appropriate to show in a film, so they are often family friendly.

The book about Jonathan Edwards looks like a wonderful read.

PJ Geek said...

I had an apple scone / coffee day at Panera at a little corner table with my notebooks and journal at hand. Special time. I don't know if the real Paris will match up to the magical Paris I imagine, but I'd like to find out.

PJ Geek said...

I have a French café inspired post on my blog this week.

Sandi said...

Have you ever seen the version of Sabrina with Harrison Ford and Julia Ormond? That's the Paris I pictured while reading this. Sweet, restorative, strengthening Paris. And there you were, at Panera. :) This was lovely to read and so true. Thank you for a trip to Europe this afternoon while I sit at my kitchen table having dandelion tea and reading your words.

Ca va! (I think that's French for everything is OK, I may have just insulted your mother, who knows!)

Rachel Hughes said...

Just told my husband that I plan to watch the stage show Billy Elliott on PBS this Friday night. I may never get to London or New York to see this, but it is coming to me! I had lunch at Panera today! Love the autumn squash soup!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Brenda - I enjoy your writing and often look up your blog when I'm feeling the need for some encouragement :) This was a great encouragement to be content whatever our circumstances, to enjoy the moments of this day, the now, and to celebrate and look for, and share the beauty around me. I'm thankful for a day at the markets with my girls today, and for people with creativity. I'm thankful for your post and also another one, with the thought that I can create magic and wonder in my kitchen even if I don't have a Kitchen Aid (which I really wanted, nearly got, but then the person who was going to order it on a special deal they had never did, so I ended up having to get a different one I don't absolutely love, but which does the job well too.)