Remember how I realized that I’ve explored two cities this summer whose goal is to be bizarre?
Another fun fact: I’ve also ventured through two cities whose identities have been heavily molded by an earthquake’s devastation.
I have never experienced an earthquake (knock on wood – preferably a sturdy doorframe). This is rather surprising, seeing that I called California home for years, visited the state frequently and am now considering it as a future home. However, even without the personal experience, I feel aghast at seeing what such a natural disaster can undo.
The Carmo Convent: ruined in 1755, still beautiful today.
It is even more gasp-inducing to see what humanity can re-do afterward.
In Lisbon, my sister and I stumbled upon the work of a pair of designers who have captured the personality of Portugal in childlike cartoons.
(courtesy of Soma Ideas)
A poem accompanies each city or national icon. For Portugal’s capital, one line immediately held my attention.
(courtesy of Yelp.com)
Urbanity risen from an earthquake.
Saints Peter and Paul Church, San Francisco
National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi (courtesy of about.com)
These churches are also the progeny of a post-earthquake era. Both existed before 1906. Both fell in that year. Now both have been born again.
“Born again” has a spiritual association, and I profess to fall into that Christian category. Joining my spiritual life is now my professional life. Please don’t misinterpret this: my decision to leave a career does not compare to the pain and destruction experienced in an earthquake. I am, though, starting anew. What existed before is no longer in front of my eyes, and I have to envision, reimagine what will stand there in the years to come.
That’s why the tales of these shifting tectonic plates has so grabbed me. Look at the beauty around you. Humanity is a people of resilience. Of strength. Of determination. In a time of desolation, the answer is not, “Let me leave.”
Instead, it has been, “Let me live.”
As I survey what is no longer there in my everyday, I pray for an existence greater than what was before.