Raymond and I flew from A Coruna yesterday and Dave flew to Porto to begin his Portuguese adventure with his wife, Phyllis. So it was a new beginning for all four of us. Our first impressions of Lisbon have not been all that positive. The city is very busy and crowded with tourists, which makes navigating with a backpack troublesome. When we stopped for a drink and a plate of fries (not the most nutritious lunch I must admit) the bill came to an outrageous 26 Euros (about $35 Canadian). Our high priced room is located on the street above two bars, where the noise continued well into the wee hours. Fortunately my wax ear plugs did their job well. Yesterday, when we navigated the crowded streets to the cathedral, we found the staff to be cold and indifferent and they refused to give a pilgrim discount to tour the “treasures” exhibit, as commonly practiced in all the churches in Spain.
With these negative thoughts in my head, I headed back to the cathedral with Raymond this morning so he could get a stamp in his pilgrim passport. Once in the cathedral, I was again struck by the noise of a hundred tourists trying to snap photos and talking in subdued tones so as to keep the “silence” of the cathedral. Nonetheless I felt moved to sit quietly and pray. Two days ago we had stopped into a little unadorned church in Cee and almost instantly found a place of peace that we carried with us through the morning. I was skeptical that I could find peace in this busy cathedral but, within a minute found my negativity fade away and a calmness overcome me. I realized the that the peace I sought was actually in me, not the place. Yes, there are some places that make this easier, “sacred spaces” or, as the Irish call them, “thin places”, where the veil between the physical and the spiritual is thin. But ultimately, the way to peace is through sitting quietly and getting in touch with “Christ in us”. I thought of my favourite scripture, “Be still and know that I am God.” No matter where I am and what the circumstances, that inner peace is available.