Greetings from Portugal
The last few weeks here have been arduous and productive with the ongoing renovations at Caminho da Cruz, The Way of the Cross. We have installed 11 new double glazed windows, 2 uPVC glass external doors, built 4 block walls, levelled and concreted a 31 sq metre sun terrace and installed 13 steps out of old and new stone. Once you are here, the restrictions of the world are unrecognisable until you go out for provisions or building materials. I have no TV or radio and it’s really rather freeing to live like this.
My friend Dave who has been helping me for the last month returned back to the UK last week, having to fly from Lisbon to London Heathrow was the only viable way as flights to Manchester have been suspended from Portugal for the time being. One flight route that has been completely unaffected is from North Africa to Central Portugal, the skies are full again and the noise is ever constant. I speak not of Boeing and Airbuses, but of our feathered friend, the barn swallow. (Hirundo rustica) the most numerous type of swallow in the world.
The Barn Swallow
This beautiful passerine with its upper of glistening cobalt blue and lower of a tawny hew, darts gracefully over fields, scanning for their prey, with their distinctive forked tail. They were here last year and migrate to North Africa during the colder climes of winter and we have a nesting pair in what will be the fourth flat. They build peculiar nests, this is like an upside-down igloo made of spattered mud, we were quite alarmed when we first saw it last year it looks more like the home of something more sinister that is probably going to sting or bite someone. On the contrary, they are great for insect control, gorging on approximately 60 insects per hour I believe.
There are quite a few myths and legends relating to the swallow, old sailors would often have this fleeting bird tattooed for various nautical distances covered at sea, like crossing the equator, sailing around the horns of Africa or America, or sailing all the seven seas. Offenders being released from prison have often tattooed their hands as a sign of freedom. One native American legend has it that the barn swallow stole fire from the sun and brought it down to the earth. A wrathful god hurled a firebrand at the swallow, burning its tail. This left it with its trademark forked tail. There is another that says the barn swallow comforted the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, plucking the embedded thorns from His cruel crown and chirping, “cheer up, cheer up.” It can also be seen in scenes of the annunciation and of the nativity, nesting under the eaves, in the Renaissance the swallow was seen as a symbol of the incarnation of Christ. Myths and legends may or may not be true, or may intertwine some truth with man’s thoughts or wisdom, that’s why I come to rely only on God’s word to be true, everything else is suspect.
Uncovering the Truth
I had an interesting conversation with a lady yesterday who is a long time confessed atheist. She recently has started believing in God because of what was written in the bible some 2,000 years ago, relating to the end times in the book of Revelation.
She is amazed at the prophecies foretold about the mark of the beast, the restrictions to buying and selling, the one-world government all preceding the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I believe that she is not alone in her newly found revelation. I believe that with the world in lockdown, many, many people are starting to question what is going on, instead of just running on the rat race wheel. People are now beginning to think more for themselves on big reality issues. Why am I here? Who am I? What is the meaning of life? And, Where will I go when I die?
Many false prophets claiming that the world is going to end on this particular day. The coronavirus will cease to exist on that particular day. Jesus will return as this particular seal has now been broken They have been and gone and shown for what they are, false!
As the Lord Jesus, Himself states, no one knows the day but the Father. Matthew 24:36-44. Thessalonians 5:1-3. 2 Peter 3:10. Revelation 3:3. Now there may be clear signs that we are in the end times, wars, rumours of wars, earthquakes and pestilence, but are we exhorting one another as God’s word directs us to? There may be restrictions on meetings at churches, that should not stop us, the bible tells us in the book of Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much more as you see the Day approaching.”
After all, one swallow doesn’t make a summer.