We are now well past the midpoint of our European adventure. How and when did this happen?
Our two weeks in Switzerland drifted by like a dream. From Crete, we flew to Geneva and spent a few nights with old friends who are currently living just across the Swiss border in France. Then we met up with Tom’s parents and drove to Chardonne, a beautiful little town north of Lausanne and overlooking Lake Geneva.
Each morning I awoke to a pristine, still lake, ringed by gorgeous mountains and a soft blue sky. It was quietly, serenely stunning.
From there, we drove to Lauterbrunnen, a valley town in the Swiss Alps, where we left our car and traveled by train to the car-free village of Wengen.
Words fail when I try to describe the majesty of this place. The whole area looked like a something out of a movie, too beautiful to be real. The air smelled and felt incredible.
We hiked into the mountains. We ate more than our fair share of cheese and Swiss chocolate. We watched our kids play in pristine playgrounds surrounded by 360-degree views of the Alps. We slept with the windows open, and each morning I woke up feeling cleansed by the cool mountain air.
Sometimes I feel like there are too many moments of beauty for me to process them all. Will I remember how my daughter looked, leaning over the railing of a ferry, singing Moana songs, as we cruised around Lake Geneva? How my heart felt when I saw the Lauterbrunnen Valley for the first time? Or even the smell of the rain as it falls on cobblestoned streets in Kaysersberg, an Alsatian village in Northeastern France, where we currently are?
And what of my DF research? Switzerland was always about spending time with family and friends in a beautiful, natural setting. My only research-related plan was to see a black Madonna located in Einsiedeln Abbey, outside of Zurich, as we made our way toward France.
But She was present in Switzerland as much as anywhere I’ve ever been. The DF has always been intimately, inextricably connected to nature and the land. Her presence in the mountains was palpable. Seeing the black Madonna, while interesting, paled in comparison.
She does not live in churches or research books or museums. Why do I keep forgetting this? Fortunately, the land is always ready to remind me.
Tomorrow we head deeper into France, to the Loire Valley. The days have taken on a fluid quality. I want to go home; I want to stay on the road forever.
I’ve never felt closer to my family. I’ve never been more in awe of my kids, and their ability to adapt joyfully to each new experience that presents itself. And I know we’ve all been deeply changed by this experience, in ways we don’t even understand yet.