August 20, 2011
Friday morning I again woke around 4 am, and again spent some time in prayer and reading St. Matthew in Spanish. This would be a good day for the Prado, I decided. Headed out a little after 7 and made a stop at a small bar for cafe con leche and a croissant. Coffee comes in a glass in Spain. Who decides these things, I wonder? It isn’t that they don’t have mugs here in Spain, they just don’t seem to actually use them. At any rate, the locals were talking about the Pope’s visit the night earlier, and how much money the Church had, and how Madrid could not afford such an expense with the current economic crisis. I felt awkward sitting there in my rather conspicuous bright orange WYD t-shirt (which I had worn now 3 days in a row due to my luggage still being missing). They must know I can understand them, I thought – at least a little. I wanted to say something, start a dialogue, reason with them. The obvious fact is that if the Pope were not there, then there would not be these million plus young people coming to Madrid in the dead of August and filling their restaurants, their museums, their hotels and pumping money into an economy during the one month that the city usually goes into hibernation. But I don’t know how to say hibernation in spanish. And I didn’t want to offend – not today. I finished my croissant and left.
Outside the Prado I waited for the doors to open. The air was cool and I sat in the grass, making more progress in San Mateo. The doors opened at 9 and I soaked in some of the world’s finest art. Velasquez, Goya, Caravaggio.
But I was continuously drawn to the dozens of paintings of the Virgin Mary and Christ – both when he was a child, and after his crucifixion. These paintings mean much more to me now that I am a mother. I use to dismiss the relationship between Mary and Jesus as little more than a necessary means for Christ to come to earth. But oh how my heart aches for my children. What bond they must have had, Mary and Jesus, and what affection they must have shared. How broken would I be to raise such a wonderful child, the Christ, and watch him die.
In the afternoon I headed towards La Plaza de Cibeles, where the Pope would celebrate The Way of the Cross in the evening.
The Way of the Cross is a Spanish tradition, much like the Stations of the Cross, where the different stages of Christ’s betrayal and crucifixion are remembered and meditated on, usually the week leading up to Easter. Only in The Way of the Cross, large floats, fourteen in all, are carried through the streets – in some cases by over a hundred men, depending on the size of the float.
They came from around the country, these floats, and each was carved from wood – true works of art. It means a great deal to me, personally, to see my faith reflected in such masterpieces. Some people connect to God with music, others with writings, or nature. While I love finding God through all those avenues, seeing religious art inspires me in a different way. Art urges me to create and reach others.
Lord, I give You my talents. My dreams. My aspirations. You have chosen my gifts for Your purpose and I lay that at Your feet. May I not be lazy or selfish with my talents, but instead be a good steward. I have no agenda. My accomplishments may be large or small, my only desire is that I honor You. I pray also for others with dreams and visions of using their talents. Let them not be afraid. Let them instead be diligent and inspired, offering their time and effort in humility. We are Your children, Lord. Teach us Your ways.
BTW – MY BAG ARRIVED! PRAISE THE LORD! I am very grateful for a clean set of clothes and my camera – just in time for tonight’s Vigil with the Pope!