Monday, September 6, 2010

The Reformation...of Our Plans

     Today we headed for Geneva Switzerland, which was only 2 1/2 hours from Grenoble.  Since Jeannie was overseeing Marc's heavy load of final exams, we thought it would be a good day to head to the Reformation museum. Jean-Luc had given it such glowing reviews, and I had also read about it in travel guides.  It had many innovative interactive displays which helped one navigate the many aspects of the movement...the Reform-ation of the Church.
     This move from human laws imposed by the Catholic Church to the laws and precepts of Scripture Alone "Sola Scriptura" was spurred on in Germany by Martin Luther.  Formerly a Catholic monk, he never felt forgiven as he sensed his heavy burden of sin day by day.  Martin couldn't do enough to merit the love and forgiveness of Christ.  Until one day, he read in Galatians 2:16 "nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law, but through faith in Jesus Christ.  This truth freed was faith in Jesus Christ, and not man's works that brought salvation.
So, armed with history and a few maps Jean-Luc had given us, we reached the pristine city of Geneva.  Again, we walked in circles, until I was brave enough to ask a book shop owner the directions to the museum.  I queried in broken French, and she happily answered clearly in French...along with hand signals. It was just around the corner!
We quickly went on our way, reaching what truly looked like a Reformation like building.  Even the doors resembled the place in Wittenburg where Luther posted his 95 theses clearly outlining his beliefs.  As I pulled on the iron handles, the door did not budge. "Maybe they are on lunch break" I mused.  There was a sign to the right of the door written in French, of course, that revealed the problem:  the museum was closed on Mondays.  What a huge let down.
     So, we did the next best thing, and visited the Reformation wall in a park nearby after lunch.  Four men from history are carved from the stone: Guillaume Farel (first to preach the Reformation in Geneva) John Calvin (leader of the Reformation movement and spiritual father of Geneva) Theodore Beza (French, Calvin's successor who emphasized Calvin's doctrine of predestination) and John Knox (Scottish preacher, friend of Calvin, and founder of Presbyterianism in Scotland.)  It's interesting to note that these Reformers did not look kindly on statues in their day!  Above the statues is the Motto: Post Tenebras Lux or "After Darkness, Light".  Martin Luther is featured in a less prominent spot, due to the disagreements he had with Calvin on points of doctrine.
     The gardens surrounding the wall were alive with brightly colored orange poppies, and other flowers in purple and blue that added a contrast to the mix.  We decided to do a bit of window shopping in Geneva, since we had extra time on our hands, and made a visit to the waterfront that I remembered as a young teen.  My Mother and I toured Geneva many years ago together, and this lake was my grand memory of this politically neutral country.  It was almost, but not quite as grand, but certainly as clean as I remembered.  Not a piece of stray paper on the street, no grafitti on the walls, no homeless on the streets.
Before we went to dinner, we stopped at a chocolate shoppe, hoping to pick up something to satisfy our sweet tooths after our meal.  We wondered if it would keep a few hours in the heat, so Dan thought I should ask the shop keeper in English instead of French (I loved the challenge), because it was such a complicated question.  So, I asked the woman, "Parlez-vous Anglais?"  She replied with a smile, "Oui, mais vous parlez bien Francais...vous parlez en Francais"!  How wonderful it was to be told by a Swiss woman that I spoke "beautiful French", or "spoke it well".  I was on cloud 9!!  Each day I used the little French I knew, I learned a few more words to use the next day.  It was a shame that we had to leave in two days.  So, I explained my complicated question in short phrases, she understood, and answered me in French.  Yes, indeed, the chocolate would keep since in was covered with a special coat that would not melt in one's hand in the heat.  We made our purchase, and left to find a restaurant.
     Soon, we found a lovely outdoor cafe´ and in no time, were savoring a tasty meal.  Mario at one point, wanted more butter for our bread, so I encouraged him to ask one of the waiters in French.  He was good at doing that.  I instructed him to ask for "beurre", but, when he did, the three male waiters listening said, "Beer?" "Why would a young boy want beer (bier)?"  "You mean butter (beurre)"!  They laughed, and gave him what he asked for, but Mario was humiliated, and it showed when he arrived back at the table.  It discouraged him from speaking French for awhile, but we talked about the "faux-pas" for months.

We headed home to Grenoble, and all but Jean-Luc were in bed at 10pm when we arrived.  The re-formation of our touring plans didn't turn out so badly after all.

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