Feliz Pascua & Some Reflections
Because of Spain's historical links to Catholicism, Holy Week, culminating with Easter Sunday, is a national holiday. All over Spain, there are processions and parades and church services every day of the week! It's a bit off-putting at first, since the traditional dress for many of these processions is long garments with cone hat-masks that cover all of the person except his/her eyes, but it's also incredible. In one procession I saw, there were 20 or so men underneath an extremely heavy, ornate, wooden altar with a statue of Jesus carrying the cross, and they were moving it from the inside, so that you could just see their feet peeking out from under the bottom of the huge structure whenever they began to take a step forward.
Since I am back from my travels and in Madrid for Easter, I decided to attend a service at the Almudena Cathedral, the famous cathedral next to the royal palace and the seat of the Bishop. There were so many people! But the music was lovely, and the priest gave a beautiful sermon that I think transcends religious denomination and is applicable to everyone. He said, "Lay down weapons/tools of violence, hate, greed, anger [...] Take up weapons/tools of service, generosity, love [...]." Unfortunately my rough translation doesn't do it justice, but the sentiment is still really poignant. It's so easy, especially, I notice, living in a new place, and a foreign place at that, to be critical, to wrap myself in armor of mistrust or frustration. These times I find myself resisting Spain and my new home and forgetting all of the things I love about Madrid (the history, the art, the never-ending passion, the focus on getting to know people in your neighborhood or workplace, just to name a few). Instead, I'm going to make sure I arm myself with positivity, generosity, caring, and optimism, so that I can make the most out of the too little time I have left in Madrid! ¡Feliz Pascua!