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Sigriswil, Berner Oberland, is one of the prettiest and most romantically Swiss villages that I have ever seen, and I have decided to apply for citizenship here.

There is absolutely nothing not to like about this place: the mountainside location and hilariously glorious views (I actually laughed aloud at the beauty, yes, I really did, when I stopped sweltering and panting my way up the hill behind the village, for a moment, and took a 360˚ turn-around to feast my eyes and heart on the phenomenal panorama view); the sublime wooden houses, old and new, large and small, all solidly dignified and settled in their places with a quirky proud disregard for the straight lines of normal civic planning; the polite friendliness of everyone one meets and the fantastic dialect that they speak as they greet me in the street … and, to be honest, even the cows and their ding-dang-donging on the meadowside make me feel homely and happy (when did you last see a proper meadow that practically vibrates with its green, rich, er … verdancy?) (When did you ever even have the chance to use that word?).

And when you hear a group of grown men yodelling in church to celebrate Harvest (an event that really might mean something in this traditional-modern farming culture) it is clear that all is well with the world, and, here, all is well with my soul.

Yvonne Witschi, pastor of the Sigriswil church, climbed the steps of the elevated pulpit to talk to the packed village church, and one by one explained the contents of her 'thankfulness' basket. The first thing out of her basket? An apple. Of course. Chosen, as she said, “to represent all the good things that we have and share today”. So this is not an apple that I got to eat, but one that pointed me to the source of all of my apples, to nature’s amazing profligacy in supplying what I need to live, always. God’s fingerprints all over the place, as always.

Thankfulness, towards God. Generosity, towards others. Preach it, sister.

Luca and I are awaiting response from the US government with regard to our permit to enter the country for a year. We are patient with the unexpectedly slow process, although out of the corner of my eye I can nearly see the dark, hunched form of a pestering frustration, which also keeps claiming leave to remain. How long will they keep us in limbo?

I’m led to believe that gaining Swiss citizenship takes something like 12 years. Should I perhaps start a second application process, here in Sigriswil, seeing as I like it so much, in case Trump’s administration decides against us or the visa delays continue to extend uncontrollably into the future?

(This was an entirely appropriate place to remember this week the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Luther provoked protests and rebellion in the church in order to win the freedom to speak authentically about relationship with God. But ... today's appley-sweet sermon is as far from challenging as one can imagine. Is today's culture so in need of gentleness and nurture that our greatest need is nourishment? Does what we offer still have any flavour?)


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