RACHEL SHENK: Travel can take us back to the basics | News

As I slowly open the creaky dark green shutters of our cottage, I hear the soft cooing of doves.

That familiar sound coupled with a soft breeze, an azure blue sky and a strong sun sets me firmly down in this little town of Le Brusc on the Mediterranean. Changing my horizons from snowy and cold northwest Indiana to a softer, sunnier climate makes me recalibrate my life. I need this time away to review, regroup and renew.

On these unscheduled mornings, there is nothing to hurry me along, no pending deadlines, no tasks that have to be accomplished. But as the days unfurl in easy conversations and leisurely walks, we slowly process the changes in our lives. We evaluate our choices and the paths we take. We go over what has worked and what hasn’t.

The time away from our other everyday allows us to see it more objectively. This is a different kind of work but a good work.

Over the years, this is what we have discovered: if we set time and money aside, it is possible to plan these intentional breaks. It takes numerous days to let go of our daily routines and develop new ones but this is what creates the possibility of really being away. We live here as though this was our life. It takes us back to the basics.

The result makes us realize that even in our other world, we can live on very little. We can make do with a small living space. It’s about the experience and the freedom of being in a new place.

This afternoon, we visit a 6th century chapel. It’s a little bit out of the way down a curving one-lane road. We walk down the age-old long lane lined with tall cypress and olive trees. Here still stands an ancient chapel built of stone.

Its three short stout towers topped with tiles hug the ground as though they will never let go. The stones, the shapes, even the ground here feels sacred. As we walk first on the outside, then on the inside, we soak in the history of this place where people of many different beliefs have worshiped or made a pilgrimage to over the centuries. Today, we are those pilgrims.

As we leave the chapel, I’m reminded that it has stood here forever, and somehow that grounds me and makes me present right here where my own two feet stand.

Again, this visit takes me away from my daily worries or even my worries for the world. It reminds me that life continues in the midst of routine. It’s helpful to intentionally take time away to bring these truths back to light.

I’m already planning on where that next place will be.

La Bonne Vie’s Rachel Shenk has been an artisan baker for 30 years. Born and raised in Belgium, she has lived in Goshen since 1973. She has been writing about food, traveling and the good life for about 10 years. You can connect with her on her Facebook page, La Bonne Vie, or at her cheese shop in Goshen, The Wedge.


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