I’ve enjoyed so many exciting adventures since last November. In fact, today is the first anniversary of my retirement. I’ve traveled all over America and spent the last 3 weeks in Europe visiting Manchester for a Jesus Culture conference; London, Brussels, and Paris with my daughter; staying on a few more days in Paris on my own and continuing on to the Amalfi Coast, Florence, and finally Faulensee. Of those cities I visited, 2 of them are experiencing fallout from terrorist acts or threats. In fact, I left Paris on a night train just a couple of hours before the coordinated attacks occurred.
I don’t watch the news even when home much less when I’m on vacation. I was on a train all night and didn’t arrive at my destination until about noon Friday. My daughter messaged me, “Where are you?” When I told her on was on the Amalfi Coast, she then texted, “You should probably let people know you’re not in Paris,” and alerted me to the attacks. I scoured the internet for details.
I had such mixed emotions about being out of Paris. I feel spared. Glad. Sad. GRATEFUL. I enjoyed Paris 2 days with my daughter & 3 days on my own & I was feeling a little shaky that I had escaped being locked into Paris by just a few hours. I had debated staying one more day to spend it at the Louvre, but in my morning quiet time, I felt encouraged to move on. Though I would not have been out (I don’t often go out at night alone in San Diego, much less an unfamiliar city where I don’t speak the language), several of the attacks were close to the hostel we stayed at.
I had so many good experiences throughout Europe and particularly in Paris. My heart broke for those who lost friends and family. I could not help but remember 9/11, another terrible terrorist attack that I felt a connection to. Connected to Paris because I just left there, connected to 9/11 because New York is my home. Over the next few days, I continued to reflect.
After 3 days on the Amalfi Coast, I headed to Florence and had dinner with one of my daughter’s childhood friends who happens to live nearby. We had a stimulating conversation prompted by the recent events. We touched on morality, who’s responsible for teaching morality, the inability to legislate morality. I questioned whether we don’t have a responsibility to each other not to stir up any people group with our opinions. Taylor said “you shouldn’t poke a bear but you shouldn’t stay out of the woods cause there might be bears.” We went on to discuss freedom of speech. That conversation continued stirring my thoughts for the next several days.
I think morality is a personal choice which we each have the freedom to make. As I thought about morality and holiness and choosing how to live, I contemplated the difference between those who commit acts of terrorism and those who deplore those acts. I think those who commit acts of terrorism are living out their “morality” and “holiness” with passion. Though I abhor their acts, I wonder if I could live out my morality and holiness with the same commitment and passion as they. Will I help the world be a better place if I do?
I caught a clip of Jimmy Fallon honoring Paris and her citizens.
This video by Antoine Leiris who lost his wife in the attacks is deeply moving:
We must live our lives with commitment and passion. Don’t be a hater. As Antoine so eloquently states, to hate will be to exhibit the same ignorance that carried out the attacks.
I could not leave Europe before saluting Paris. Nous somme Paris!