Time Away: Part 1

By Leslie Parks - Friday, November 13, 2015

When I was little and we lived in France, the border was open yet we had to stop at the "frontiere" and pass through much like we do between the USA and Canada.  When visiting later as a kid, it was the same way.  Stop at the border and show my passport when asked for.  Nothing to declare then go on through.  As Europe started the European Union and countries joined, the borders became less controlled. Even into Switzerland who isn't part of the ECU it is wide open and no one "mans" the border. While my mother and I visited my grandparents in the last two weeks it was this way. The offices were closed and people freely walked and drove across without first stopping. The only things that marked the border were the two buildings owned by each government and the sign between them announcing the crossing point. As I sit typing this, the border is now closed. I don't mean that the check point has been reinstated.  I mean closed. When thinking about crossing the border so easily a week ago and now that it's changed I think about how fast and unpredictable life really is. One week ago, I was headed home from a two week retreat at my grandparents house.  We had driven and walked across this border and others without even thinking about it. Grocery shopping in Carouge, a tour of Collongy, a bus into Geneva without showing a passport, without talking to border patrol and now it changed. When reading the news, it is stated that the border hasn't been closed since WWII. My grandparents lived in a country that had it's borders closed due to war, and now once again the border is closed and all due to the violence of men.
While wandering around the village and surrounding area, I am always astounded at the fact that yards are totally enclosed. From the front to the back, with cement walls and hedges that rise above the tallest person. The gates, usually very ornamental and beautiful and generally closed. The only peek into the gardens are through the gates if they are bars instead of being solid.  The enclosed gardens seem to represent tranquility, privacy, a retreat,a sanctuary from the stress of the world.  Although in light of recent events maybe more of a feeling of protection and security than anything else.

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