Friday, June 28, 2013

Between Cultures

I ate half a loaf of French bread for breakfast and I'm not sorry! My gums are a bit sore, though. You know you're eating real French bread when you cut your gums on the crust. It's all part of the fun. French bread, as opposed to the American version of French bread, has to be chewed. It doesn't melt in one's mouth. Real French bread is toothy, crusty, and hearty. And oh-so-delicious!

Our many visitors from North America re-awakened our appreciation of the goodness of French bread as they ooh-ed and ahh-ed over bakery items that have become commonplace for us. Those same visitors also brought to our attention various cultural adaptations that we have made as a family; most of which were entirely unintentional on our part.

Several people noted that we all eat with our forks in our left hands and knives in our right. We don't switch back and forth like Americans. None of us made a conscious choice to change the way we eat; yet somehow all of us have changed.

By American standards, we eat dinner "late." By French standards we eat dinner "early." It seems that a 7:30 p.m. dinner hour is a cultural compromise. Again, not an intentional one--just the way things have worked out.

And then there is the pace at which we eat, savoring both the food and the conversation. Last week I took my niece and her two friends on a picnic. I had packed a light lunch and we stopped to eat it at a road side park on the way to the ch√Ęteau we were going to visit. After what had to be like 10 minutes, they all dusted the crumbs from their hands, stood, and started walking towards the car. I sat at the picnic table stunned, trying to figure out what was happening. Then it dawned on me--they had finished their food and were ready to go. I was lingering over my water bottle, enjoying the ambiance, just settling in. But they we done and gone.

We are living life between two cultures--both changing and being changed. Which, of course, makes me think of how I am being changed by Kingdom Culture as well.

I hope that as I immerse myself in the Word of God, as I spend time with Jesus, and as I live life for his glory, I am picking up his holy habits along the way. I hope the small changes that are being wrought in me testify to the fact that I am a citizen of Heaven. Because as a Christian, we are called to a life between cultures--to be changed by the work of Christ in our lives AND to affect change in the world in which we live.

The changes may be subtle--even unintentional, for the Spirit changes us from the inside out. But I hope that if you were to come to my house you would notice something more significant than changed eating habits. I hope you would notice a spirit that is gentler, a faith that is stronger, a love that is greater, and a joy that is brighter than the last time we met. I would hope that the same would be true for you, too. 

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