Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Conversations resumed


I was able to borrow a Fiat Seicento today, in order to visit friends outside Geneva. I was just a little nervous, as it's a couple of years since I drove in a left hand drive car on the left hand side of the road. I didn't encounter any difficulties, mainly because I felt relaxed enough to drive at a pace more moderate than usual, and relied less on my wits and more on working out where I was going to. My first call was in nearby Meyrin, where I found Alec and Ann-Marie Hester, he a retired CERN physicist, at home, and she, a legendary cook and providor of hospitality, who has run the English Church craft group for a quarter of a century. They were awaiting their daughter Dagmar for lunch. There was no question of my being allowed just to pass through and say 'hello'. I was promptly invited to stay and eat with the family - always a pleasure. It must be seven years if not longer since I presided over Dagmar and Guy's nuptials, at Holy Trinity Church in Geneva, so it was a happy reunion. Dagmar and Guy are both doctors back agan working in Geneva after a spell in Australia. Dagmar I noted has added ozzie colours to her English accent to add to the French and German hues resulting from growing up in a (another) trilingual household. It makes such a refreshing change from the transatlantic drawl affected by so many of those educated in this international social context.

Ann Marie, having provided us with an excellent lunch, departed for hospital to celebrate there the 95 birthday of one of the members of the craft group. Dagmar went back to work at the same time. Alec and I stayed and chatted for another half hour. I was delighted to learn that he had approved of, downloaded and shared the content of the Christian apologetic leaflets which I've published on the church website. I was pleased to be able to tell him that after a three years of a gap, I have this week drafted numbers five and six in the series. At least I hope they'll still be readable and make sense in the cool light of post holiday practicalities.

Eventually, I took off for Divonne les Bains, to spend the rest of the day with Philippe and Julia Chambeyron, a couple who were among the founders of the Anglican congregation based in the rural Vaudois village of Gingins, near Nyon, fifteen years ago. What was once a mission congregation of Geneva with a once a month service is now a fully fledged self supporting church with its own full time priest, and a growing mission congregation of its own based in the Temple de Divonne. Julia, I prepared for confirmation nearly fourteen years ago. She went on to train as a Reader after I left, then last summer was made Deacon by the diocesan Bishop in celebration at the WCC's Centre Oecumenique chapel in Grand Saconnex, Geneva. Her husband Philippe is a French Catholic, and a wonderful mainstay both of the Gingins community, and of his wife's ministry. Apparently a recent survey of French Catholics revealed at 70% were in favour both of women's ordination to the priesthood and of married clergy. How many centuries can the Vatican hold out I wonder?

It was nearly eleven o'clock when I headed back to Geneva in the dark. I crossed the border through Sauverny into Versoix, and encountered a flying frontier/customs control post, set up at the roundabout by the Stade, two kilometres inside the official border. They weren't interested in me and waved me through. If they were out working overtime, it wasn't for my benefit. I got back safely, but had a fright because at first I couldn't work out how to open the get to get into the house. I thought it was locked, and my key would not penetrate the lock, but it was merely sticking in a rather un-Swisslike manner, and eventually yielded to a hefty shove.

Glad to be back in peace and quiet to savour the conversations and emotions of the day. So good to be with people I miss back in Wales.

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