Yesterday was such a lovely day.
Bastille Day, France’s national holiday, commemorating the start of the French Revolution. It’s a lot like our own Independence Day, with a lot of outdoor parties and the day ending with fireworks.
Lauren and I decided to go out for dinner, meet friends for dessert, and watch the fireworks together. We went to an incredible little pizza place that was full to bursting which is always a good sign; the food was delish. I went with the gourmet pizza menu and decided on the one with goat’s cheese, cream, honey, apples, and hazelnuts – basically a dessert pizza posing as dinner. And a Bigourd’Ale Blanche, a local craft brew that did not disappoint.
Lovely conversation and garlic bread and friends who joined us for dessert as the sun gradually made it’s way towards the horizon in cool but mostly clear skies. After dessert we wandered towards the centre-ville, where there was live music playing in the courtyard and people milling about celebrating the day.
As darkness fell, someone set off a few firecrackers. I glanced around and remembered why no one registered any fear at that sound: no one has guns here. It was a large crowd, it seemed all of Lourdes came together last night; it was full of laughter and different languages and a beautiful sunset. It crossed my mind that if I was in Paris I wouldn’t have joined in a gathering this large, but then chastised myself for being silly and fearful. Lourdes is harmless and it’s a day of celebration and relax and enjoy the moment. I did, however, know exactly where we were and if there was a problem how to get out quickly.
The lights went off and the fireworks began; shot from a castle to perfectly timed music. I found myself blinking back tears as beauty filled my field of vision and the emotive, haunting music tugged at my heart and stirred my emotions for reasons beyond understanding. As the final shimmers faded we said goodbye to friends and headed home; chilly toes and full hearts ready to curl into a warm bed and blissful sleep.
This morning I stirred slowly, a nagging headache trying to convince me to stay in bed while a gorgeous sunny day beckoned me out. I glanced at my phone to see what time it was and squinted at dozen messages through different avenues all asking the same thing: are you okay? Confused I glanced through and saw other words like tragic and awful and horrified, alongside we are praying for you and please let us know you are okay. My gut clenched as I stumbled out of bed, pulling on sweatpants and wondering what on earth happened, knowing it must be bad. Was it here in Lourdes? I could hear Lauren had just turned on the news in the living room; I walked out and all I could say was what happened?
Nice. 84 dead. Terror and mayhem.
We both stared numbly at the images on TV; eerily reminiscent of 9/11, of Brussels, of Paris, of Dallas. This time it was tears of despair I found myself blinking back; grief, horror, anger, emptiness.
What do I do with this?
Innocents, children, vacationers, celebrating life and freedom and summer and family and joy; blackened by hatred and anger and evil beyond understanding. It could have been me. It could have been any of us in any city in the world. Senseless killings around the globe on what is nearly a daily basis.
I wanted to reply to all the messages, NO, I’m not okay! None of us should be okay. We shouldn’t be okay with all of this hatred and anger and evil in action day after day. Please, don’t be okay with this. Any of it. Nice. Dallas. Istanbul. Baton Rouge. Minnesota. Baltimore. Brussels. Baghdad. Syria. Don’t just take your anger to Facebook either - get angry and get passionate and do something.
God has put in me a heart and a longing and a love for travel; for exploring cultures and cities and nature and serving those in greatest need. It feels deeply and loves deeply and longs for restoration of the brokenness around me.
It’s also very stubborn.
I will not bury my head in the sand or try to find a ‘safe’ place in the world to hide away.
There is more love to be spread.
Be the change you want to see in the world. Ghandi