Thursday, May 26, 2005

There was a bombing in Madrid yesterday...

I don´t know how many of you heard anything about it on the news. Over 50 people injured, but fortunately no one was killed. ETA, the Basque group seeking independence from Spain, planted a car bomb near an office building in the northeast section of Madrid. They are kind and gentle terrorists who call ahead and give people time to evacuate the building. But the glass, the percussion of the explosion, and the ignorance of innocent passersby still caused many injuries. Only five people were taken to the hospital, so that´s a relief.

Interestingly enough, we didn´t find out about the bomb ourselves until we were watching the news at a friend´s house while eating Pizza Hut pizza last night. It was a brief news broadcast during halftime of a soccer game. We all oohed and aahed while savoring the ham, mushroom, and garlic-laden pie. Plus there was the ponche segoviana for dessert, a creamy cake soaked in rum. The news about the bomb was sad, but the food eased our pain a little.

If I sound flip, it´s only because I would hate for anyone to worry about our safety here in Madrid. We were no where near where ETA has planted bombs in the past few years. And even if we were, we are no farther from the protective custody of God here in Madrid than we would be in Charlotte.

I think back to the fall of 2001, just a couple of weeks after September 11th when I was taking my first solo trip to Italy. Friends and family pleaded with me not to go to Europe so soon after our nation´s more horrific and fierce attack. Steve and I talked it over and decided that I would go ahead with my plans. Off I went. On one of the best adventures of my life to date.

The verse that flowed through my mind at least a dozen times per day was a common one, an often quoted one: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for Thou (My Lord, God, Savior, Provider, and Protector) art with me." I was not alone for a minute. I was not unprotected for a moment. Plus there was the collective chuckle of all the passengers waiting for that AlItalian flight that October evening. As all the Rome-bound travelers sat quietly and tensely at our gate at JFK Airport following what I imagine was the most intense search any of us had ever undergone, a group of 20 to 25 nuns filed into our waiting area and found their seats. I was certain that our flight had been prayed for several hundred times in the past few days and would continue to be rosaried and incensed for many hours yet to come. On the way home ten days later, I sat beside a woman who prayed, thumbed her rosary, organized and reorganized her saint cards for the entire flight. I think the only time she wasn´t fiddling with her religious paraphrenalia was when she was eating. I was "prayed up" and in good hands.

Anyway, I was safe then. I am safe now. Bombs will drop. Perhaps not here in Madrid again, but certainly in Iraq and in other places around the world. Muggings will take place. I will do more bonehead things like letting this morning´s teapot full of water boil out completely. Thank God that Kristiana found it before a fire started. But no matter what, no matter how deeply into the valley of the shadow of death I wander, I will not fear for I am not alone. Actually, as Ian Cron said so well just days before that Italian sojourn back in 2001, I am alone; but I am alone with The Alone. The Solitary One. The Only One who can walk through the valley with me and bring me safely to the light on the other side.

Change of topic: For anybody keeping score, we still don´t have Internet access at the apartment. However, we have become friends with the lady who gives out change for the computers in the second floor of Rodilla, the one on calle Fuencarral in the Bilbao area of Madrid. You can find the three of us here nearly daily.

Yes, we are well. Life is good. The kids are learning more Spanish, enjoying their rides on the Metro (Madrid´s subway system), and have even left me alone in a local coffee shop so they could ¨go home¨ on their own with the keys to our apartment building and apartment. They are getting comfortable with city life. I am thrilled.

It seems impossible, but we have been away from home for two weeks already. Time is flying. Just over two weeks to go.

Hasta pronto, Gail

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