Posted by: ritagone | March 23, 2016

Terror in Brussels, Loving Lisbon

I promised last week that I would elaborate on highlights of my recent trip to both Lisbon, Portugal, and New York City.

This is the first of two elaborations, but before I start that theme, it seems rather cavalier to talk about fun times in Lisbon without addressing the terrorist attacks in Brussels yesterday.

What can I say that hasn’t already been said by the news media or in interviews with people who experienced firsthand what went down at the airport or on the subway in that most beautiful and stately city? Indeed, what can anyone say or keep saying about terrorist attack after terrorist attack? We’re all frightened and saddened and worried. Can it happen where we are? Or where we are going? Is our safe place next? Will our community’s peace be shattered by a group of people who want nothing more than to insert themselves with guns and bombs and the utmost kind of terror: the terror that says you can’t walk outside your front door, you can’t go anywhere and be safe, you can’t be sure of your life from one minute to the next?

I don’t know the answers to these questions. I only know – and maybe it’s easier for me to say this because my community so far has remained intact from actual terror – that God has called us to a spirit of freedom and peace, not meekness and anger. How we sustain a positive attitude in the midst of what is going on is something we all need to pray about and work on. It’s certainly not easy. But Jesus said it wouldn’t be.

Staying calm and clear-headed in the midst of terror is not something that comes naturally. But neither is loving your enemies. Or praying for those who persecute you. And of course this doesn’t mean we are not supposed to root out and punish those who inflict such horrible things upon innocent people. So there’s that. We must constantly cling, then, to Jesus’ words in John 16:33: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Amen and amen.

As I said about Lisbon last week, it is a city of bright colors, nooks and crannies, long history, narrow streets. With Maria as our guide, we saw places very few tourists would be able to find, including a pastry shop where the locals line up around the block for sweets and coffee! Then there was the Mexican restaurant we went to high in the hills overlooking the city and the Atlantic Ocean where the walls were covered in Mexican (Mexican???) trinkets and memorabilia and the guacamole was the best I’ve ever had! Who knew that Portugal could lay claim to that honor!

(By the way, the two photographs are symbolic of our time in Lisbon sightseeing: there’s Stephen absolutely alone in a soccer (football) stadium, because wheTH8A2937n there’s no game, you can pay to go in and have a look around, thrilled beyond belief to be there, taking it all in, and the other is a shot of the typically narrow streets you encounter inTH8A2789 the city, which Maria navigated so well in her little Peugeot.)

There was a trip to Cabo da Roca, a cape which forms the westernmost part of mainland Portugal and also continental Europe, which I mentioned in my blog last week. With winds so strong that you literally felt you might get swept off your feet (no small accomplishment for my particular body!), you truly felt you were at the edge of the world and could imagine what explorers and sailors must have felt as they sailed away looking for new worlds to conquer. And conquer them they did. For such a small country, Portugal at one time (the 15th and 16th centuries) was one of the world’s major economic, political and military powers. After all, look at just one of their colonizing accomplishments: Brazil was under Portuguese domain for many years until gaining its independence in the 19th century.

There are many lovely things about the Lisbon area, but one of my favorites is that you’re never too far from the ocean! Being a Southern California gal, seeing beaches always makes me feel at home, even if it’s the Atlantic I’m looking at and not the Pacific Ocean. Beautiful beaches adorn the Lisbon coast, surfers abound, and restaurants dot the cliffs so that customers can enjoy not only spectacular seafood but breathtaking views and sunsets.

I love Lisbon. She is hospitable and friendly, relatively inexpensive compared to other European cities, and a city that is easy to navigate from one end to the other.

Maybe I’ll go back soon…


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