A Hilltop in France

Today I will let you in on one of my little secrets. When life weighs heavy on my spirit, I travel to a hilltop in France, in my imagination. When I close my eyes I can actually smell the scent of lavender and rosemary in the breeze, savor that first bite into the perfect flaky croissant, and even hear the french lilt of a welcoming bonjour. If I am really in need of some soul nurturing, I allow my spirit to walk through an olive grove, one meditative step at a time, reaching for olive leaves, as if beads on a rosary.

This life we each lead often proves challenging, even cruel, on the spirit. I see it everyday in my pastoral ministry but also within the intimate places of my own life story. In the blink of an eye, life as we know it can stop on a dime. There is no avoiding the hardships that come with being human. The litany of human sorrows is endless; infertility, loss, betrayal, cancer, suicide, depression, death. I have shed a river of tears over the years, mourning for each and every soul that I’ve watched pay the heavy toll of being human.

And yet, I still believe in hope and the resilient spirit. It is the reason I sat down one day and created the story of Alma Gloria and the Olive Tree. I needed to believe that despite what we must endure in body and spirit, there is always hope. Do you know how many times I have prayed to whisk away a wounded soul to my imaginary French hilltop? A place where an angel named Alma Gloria would meet us at the gates and commence her healing magic. By feeding them lavishly and tenderly in body and spirit, she would help heal their soul so they would know love, hope, even joy again.

Alma Gloria and the Olive Tree is the story of such a place. In creating a French hilltop cooking school, nestled in a magical olive grove, my dreamy place of healing came to life. With Alma Gloria at the helm of the La Bastide d’Esperance cooking school, guests learn how to make the perfect cherry chocolate soufflé but more importantly they learn how to move out of the darkness and back into the light. Stepping through the gates of La Bastide d’ Esperance, we are each reminded of the power of Love to transcend and heal our brokenness.

I wrote this humble story in my own quest to make faith-sense of the human condition. I wrote this story so that maybe one day one of my children, finding themselves in a difficult place in life, would be inspired to put one foot in front of the other, determined to find their way out of the darkness and back into the light, with Hope as their compass. I wrote this story as a way to raise money for the kids that I see every six months at Sloan Kettering Pediatric Cancer Center, so bravely fighting for the chance to dream, to live, to love. They teach me what living in hope really looks like! If you are expecting to find the honed literary craft of Flannery O’Connor, you may be disappointed. For this is a story etched by the heart. Alma Gloria and the Olive Tree is my humble attempt to offer words of hope to an often hope-less world. The proceeds from every single book go directly to supporting the kids fighting cancer right now at Sloan Kettering in New York where my son was treated.

I would like to invite you to take part in two things over the next couple of weeks!

First, Parnassus Bookstore here in Nashville has kindly offered to host a book reading and signing. It would be such a gift if you would come out and support me and the book! What better way to begin the season of Advent than with a little French wine and cheese and a Christmas gift or two! It will be on Thursday evening, December 6th at 6:30pm! Here are the details!

Second, You can purchase the book on Amazon.com, at the Parnassus Bookstore, OR, in the spirit of Christmas giving, how about you allow me to sign a book or two, or three, wrap them up all Christmas-fancy, and then mail them to you or the giftee before December 24th!!

Email me at farrell@breadandhoneyblog.net with your order!

Allow me to be your Christmas elf! I promise it will be the best and easiest gift for family and friends, if not for the story, just the knowledge that your gift will help a child with cancer this Christmas!


Thank you in advance for supporting me and my life-long mission to give kids like my son Charlie the chance to dream, to live lives of hope, love, and especially to have  joy!

Live in Hope,



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