Monday, March 19, 2012

Giving Thanks in Portugal

"Want to come to Portugal from March 14-17?"

Yes, please!  I mean, who wouldn't say yes to traveling to Portugal with little Bela to stay with her mama in the tiny, mountain village of Matela where she was born?  Especially if your round-trip ticket was Euro 47 and Bela's treat!
Aren't they sweet?

I'm drawn to places like this.  Places where work has wrung the flesh out, leaving lines and creases from labor and from love.  Places where community is birthed, lived, and buried side by side and the day gathers the widows to a common seat as the sun stretches to a close.
 1339.  Widows, wearing threads of black but clothed in the memory of love lived well, 
colored by the joy of friendship.
 1340.  A peaceful olive grove, with the sun casting shadows across the ground.
 1341.  Stacked stones to form a house wall, a puzzle to contemplate and piece together about exactly what I need to make a home for my family to thrive in.
 1342.  A home and a question.  Could I make a home out of a hovel?  Could I love ~ real~and hard~and long~and through~ and find that joy had slipped in through the cracks, those of the wall and those on my face, and that the most alive feeling I could have is in serving others?
 1343.  Oranges, picked fresh from the tree, delivering sweet refreshment in an arid land.
 1344.  Church bells, to announce the day, to call out the gathering, to sound the reminder that this moment was created for joy.
 1345.  Beauty sits on the front porch together ~ 50 years.  And she giggles, "My Lionel."
 1346.  A street now paved, centuries of shepherds walking goats and sheep together out to pasture ~ and the sun falls gently on each one.
 1347.  A morning already gathered, me still in my pajamas, and the smile of one who knows that we remember best the fruit of labor, and treasure most the moments of rest because of it.
 1348.  The beauty of laughter and conversation in a language unknown but communicated, while we wait for the morning's fresh bread.
1349.  Fresh goat cheese beneath the drapes, walked from her main street home for the village visitors ~ an offering again of what it means to receive radical hospitality.
 1349.  Gathering and harvesting ~ letting nothing go to waste, not the produce, not the old people.
1350.  Mae's final lunch feast ~ that six ingredients could be stewed and boiled, sautéed and salted to leave me having dined as a queen.
1351.  Many faces to reflect on ~ theirs and mine.

Bless the LORD, O my soul: O LORD my God, how excellent is your greatness!  You are clothed with majesty and splendor.
You water the mountains from your dwelling on high:  the earth is fully satisfied by the fruit of your works.
You make grass grow for flocks and herds:  and plants to serve mankind;
that they may bring forth food from the earth:
and wine to gladden our hearts, oil to make a cheerful countenance:
and bread to strengthen the heart.
Psalm 104:1,13-16 NIV

May your day be filled with His splendor and quiet with His peace, Favored One.

Love you!


  1. Beautiful! The images creating bringing beauty to my soul. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us!!

  2. Thanks, was such a sweet time. I really could spend a long time sitting with those ladies! Blessings to you!

  3. Oh how I love the nations ...

    Thanks for splashing me with God's goodness today. I hope you don't mind if I wade around a bit to get to know you. This looks like a refreshing place to dip into all things good..


  4. Splash away, Sarah! Welcome and I look forward to getting to know you - I'm headed to your blog right now! Blessings!


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