Since I have been with my son's family in London, my daughter-in-law has fixed me a tonic that she insists I drink each morning. It is, to me, a foul-tasting concoction of raw garlic, fresh-squeezed lime juice, radish and several other unidentifiable substances. Adriana insists this will cure what ever could possibly ail me.
She comes from a long family line of herbalists. Her mother's family, living near the jungle area of Colombia, has for generations created their own medical potions and used natural substances to deal with disease and sickness. Adriana just told me about the time when they had to chase her around the house and hold her down to take a tonic to rid her body of roundworms, a common ailment in children. It worked fine.
So, every morning, I hold my breath and down six to eight ounces of this stuff, immediately popping a piece of fruit in my mouth afterward to help dispel the yucky aftertaste.
The question is: has it helped? No doubt about it, I do feel better. But I am also sleeping a lot, taking long walks, intentionally tossing my stressors away, eating only the most healthy of foods, and moving to my own rhythms.
Jonathan and Adriana have been incredibly kind and welcoming to me and are more than willing for me stay as long as I'd like. They are going to Brittany at the end of May and even booked an extra cabin for me just in case I'd like to stay and go along.
Obviously, I can't just leave my life behind and move in here. I am, above all, a pastor, and called to this work, a life of service and leadership to God's community that I've found deeply fulfilling.
I also realize that living here brings out a helplessness in me that would eventually drain me. While I'm now finally getting accustomed to finding the passenger seat in the car on the left side, not the right side, and have figured out that if I don't look right when getting ready to cross a street that I might very well get hit by a car, I also know that I would probably never drive if I were to live here.
A sense of competence in living is important for our basic self-images. The self-esteem movement that rewards children for simply showing up actually defeats its own purpose. Self-esteem is built by learning how to do things, and at mastering the essentials tools in order to be able to deal with normal living. Look at a child who is learning to dress himself or herself and notice the beaming face when he or she manages to get the clothes on correctly. That beaming face is repeated thousands of times over as the child becomes more and more able to do things independently.
So, having said that, I do feel a bit incompetent here and know in the long run, this would really wear me down.
So, I shall just savor the next three days here and then prepare for the long flight back, knowing I leave one joy to enter another.
Perhaps that tonic is working, after all!