We landed on French soil this past Sunday. And it felt like coming home.

In the past 21 months, we’ve only spent six weeks in our adopted country. We’ve, of course, been deep down grateful for extended time in the States to celebrate and to grieve with our beloved family. But we’ve missed France.

The two countries are so different.

Last week we celebrated our son’s graduation from Harvard Kennedy School where he received his Masters in Public Administration. The pomp and circumstance were indeed worthy of Chris’s achievement, and we delighted in spending time with Chris and Ashlee, meeting Chris’s classmates, and celebrating this milestone.

But in the midst of all the festivities, I couldn’t help but remember when our sons graduated from high school in France. No ceremony, no fancy diplomas, even though both received high honors. No black robes or mortar board. No congratulations by the school president. Just a paper pasted on the outside wall of their high school with all the students’ names listed and a subsequent ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ beside each name.

Different indeed.

Admittedly, we’re a bit confused by the term ‘home’ these days. Being near Andrew’s tribe outside of Chattanooga these past months certainly has felt like ‘home’.

House-sitting my childhood home in Atlanta, even as I grieve my sweet father’s death, has felt like a trip down memory lane and an emotional homecoming.

But now we’re back in France, in our little town of Rochetaillee, just north of Lyon. And this feels like home. Yesterday afternoon, shortly after arriving, we opened all the volets (those big wooden shutters that adorn every French home) and welcomed in fresh air. No air-conditioning over here.

Today, I hung clothes out on the line behind our house, one of the simple joys I’ve appreciated throughout our 30+ years in this country.

And I watched the French Open. I’m not a big sports fan. I rarely watch any type of game on TV. But for the past 30+ years, at the end of May and beginning of June, I love sitting by Paul and viewing this tennis tournament. For those two weeks, I am entertained as I watch tennis and pit cherries that we’ve plucked from the tree in our front yard. Cherries that ripen at precisely the same time Roland Garros is being played on the courts in Paris.

This is one of the simple joys of life in France that I have missed.

I find myself laughing and crying a lot these days as my jet-lagged brain bounces from Boston to Atlanta to Chattanooga to Rochetaillee with sweet and bittersweet memories. I find myself weeping with gratitude that my Lord has promised to “Guard my going out and my coming in from this time forth and forevermore.” (Psalm 121) And that is exactly what He’s done for so many years, in all our back and forths across the ocean.

And for today.

Because I may get confused about where home is, but He never does. Time and again I am reminded that ‘home’ is in the presence of my Lord.

ELIZABETH MUSSER writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France. Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at www.elizabethmusser.com and on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and her blog, Letters to the Lord.

4 Comments on “Letters to the Lord: Harvard and Home Again

  1. Hello Elizabeth!!

    I love receiving your emails – thank you for preparing them!! I particularly loved the last one about the food in France….it was mouthwatering and inspiring at the same time!!

    Thank you for mentioning the biography of Eugene Peterson; I have just ordered it from Chapters (the Canadian equivalent of Barnes and Noble) and am looking forward to receiving it! Our PBS station did a marvelous biography of Pastor Peterson; regrettably I missed it but my husband saw it and raved about it. I believe his final church was in a small town in Montana, possibly 4 -5 hours from our home in Calgary. I have now been reminded to see if I can find it on our PBS station’s website.

    Sometime back, you wrote about how exciting it was for you to sign the first copies of your first book for people. This comment really resonated with me; I went to university in my late 40’s; graduating with an undergrad degree in social work when I was 50. This was a lifelong dream which my husband made come true – long story. My greatest delight after graduating was signing my name on reports/case notes, etc., “Leanne Hill, BSW, RSW.” Despite being retired, I still love an opportunity to sign my name with the BSW designation behind it – I am no longer a Registered Social Worker as I am no longer working and didn’t feel like paying the $450 registration fee to simply satisfy my ego…..

    I realize you have had a very busy time of late…..so if you want to delete this email or tell me to “Buzz off”, I will not be offended in the least!! I believe you have written another novel in The Swan House series which has been printed in several European languages but has not been printed in English due to the US publishers’ discomfort with some of the content. I am wondering if there is any chance that this novel will ever be published in English?

    Thank you again for keeping in touch and for your magnificent novels. Each novel has touched my soul in different ways. I recently introduced a friend to your writing and she is so very thankful that I did!!

    Leanne Hill, BSW. 😉😉


  2. I think of you often, Elizabeth! I know it hasn’t been easy to grieve and mourn the passing of your sweet daddy, even though he is at peace. Here on earth, it just feels like there is a hole in your heart. It always feels like something is missing and then you remember, “Yes, it’s both my parents who are ‘missing’…” Im glad to know you and Paul are back in your beloved France at this lovely time of the year–reuniting with your friends and church community. Enjoy! Let me know when you are back in town! I’d still love to get up to the Flintstone area one of these days…I really wanted to see you either in Chattanooga or Atlanta for one of the book signings with Jill but other commitments got in the way. No need to reply as I know how busy you are catching up with all you need to since you’ve been away! Just know you’re still in my thoughts and prayers! Love, Kim

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Like you, I have lived awaay from the Netherlands for 17 years, now I live back here for almost 40, but when I get the chance to get back to Adelaide I feel so much at home gain! We often told each, either you go away and stay away from your home country, but if you do travel back, you always miss the other country! Many regards, Astrid

    Liked by 1 person

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