Memories From Morges, Switzerland: Learning the Art of Giving and Receiving With GraceLuke Coutinho
In our lives, we are continuously made aware of the power of giving. It is the best, deepest, and most fulfilling feeling — when done without expectation, straight from the heart. When we give unconditionally, we experience a powerful emotion that money cannot buy.
And while for the longest time, we have all collectively agreed that there is power and healing in giving. But I want to ask you — what about receiving? Many of us can give but we struggle to receive with grace. And when I look back, I am one of those people who over the years has learned to receive with grace. Truth be told: It is a beautiful feeling.
To illustrate this, let me share a little anecdote from my travels.
I was on a recent work trip to this picturesque little town of Morges in Switzerland. And whenever I travel, I have a simple rule. I explore the location on arrival and find the most local cafes or restaurants to eat at. A big part of this is because I love learning about the traditions, values, and ways of living of the locals wherever I go.
One morning, I woke up early and headed out to explore the town in search of a cafe to enjoy maybe a croissant, some coffee, and local treats. It was freezing at 1℃.
Of course, it wasn’t the kind of weather that appealed to me, but yes, I found this delightful cafe, Fornerod. Everyone there spoke French. So, neither of us could understand what the other was trying to communicate. It was at that time that this beautiful elderly lady approached me and started speaking with me in English. She was so sweet. She took her time to explain the local treats, traditions, helped me order an amazing breakfast, and then took me through all the different coffees the cafe offered.
A part of the cafe was a chocolate shop. My conversation with her revealed that she was a chocolatier. She even went the extra mile to show me around and explain the difference between these chocolates. Thanks to her, I enjoyed one of the best almond croissants ever, over a simple breakfast and a hot mug of coffee. I asked for my bill and left a decent tip. She told me it was too much and not needed, it was her pleasure to help me. But I insisted and said goodbye to her. She told me to come to the cafe the next morning and said she would use the tip I paid for my breakfast the next day.
I woke up early yet again, still dealing with the consequences of being jet-lagged. The hour was odd, too early to step out, and too cold to plan a walk. So, I called up home, spoke to my family, did a hotel room workout followed by my meditation, breathing, prayer, and my morning routine. After a warm shower, I dressed up and headed out for a walk by the sea. I breathed in the sight of the French Alps in the background, the chirping of the birds, and the color of fall all around, as I reached the cafe.
That sweet lady, Marie, had set up a table with a whole assortment of local treats and breakfast. She had a brewing mug of fresh hot chocolate prepared. Her husband joined us this time. A few minutes into the conversation revealed that the couple had owned this cafe in Morges, Switzerland for over 60 years. They showed me pictures of how it has evolved since 1955. They took their time to explain the history of the village, the cafe, and even their childhood during the war.
When I asked for the bill, they said it was a gift. I insisted on paying but they said it was their pleasure to have me and spend time with me. So, I decided to receive this grace with gratitude. While I felt happy in the process of giving, I felt happier and touched in the process of receiving.
I learned the power of slowing down from the couple and their culture. Marie told me that the problem with the world today is that not many are content and happy with what they have. There is a constant want for more, with which comes stress and disease. She shared how she and her husband have a purpose – the cafe. Every day, they open it, work together, close it, and then spend the rest of their time with each other. They have aged gracefully and beautifully. That happiness sparkles in their eyes. As I bid adieu, the kind pair packed a box of handpicked fresh chocolate for me to take away.
And yet again I was amazed at the power of abundance and giving. What a beautiful morning it was and what a beautiful world it can be. All we need to do is decide to create this world for ourselves amidst the chaos, greed, and negativity. The choice lies with us. Are you willing to make that choice?
Love from Morges, Switzerland,
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