Thursday, March 8, 2018

Being There: Easter is Coming -- So, I'm Going to Spain...

I have been honored in a way that few Americans might understand.

I've been invited to march in one of Spain's traditional (and amazing) Holy Week processions.  To put it in perspective, for me, this is akin to Eliza being invited to the ball.

But I will participate fully so as to gain knowledge and understanding that can only be achieved through, as Peter Sellers playing Chance Gardner might refer to, as "being there."

I photographed most of the Holy Week processions in León, Spain in 2016.  I will be in León again this year for Easter, not only to photograph these amazing demonstrations of devotion, but also to participate. This is one of the major processions, organized by the Brotherhood of the Seven Words of Christ on the Cross.  It is with this Brotherhood that I have been invited to participate.

I have been both a reporter and photographer at many happenings and events in the United States and throughout the world.  However, viewing an event through a lens or interviewing others about their participation is not the same as experiencing it for yourself.

The Processions start on Friday the week before Easter, with as many as seven processions in a single day, everything ending on Easter Sunday.  They are sponsored by Catholic Brotherhoods, many of them centuries old. The processions take place both night and day.  The robes and hoods date back to the the medieval period.  Hoods were originally worn to protect the identity of the penitents as they carried the heavy religious floats (pasos) on their shoulders.  In this manner, only God would know their identity.

Just as Ernest Hemingway often gained knowledge of what he wrote about by being actively involved (such as volunteering to drive an ambulance in the Spanish Civil War), I hope that changing my viewpoint from that of by-stander to active participant will allow me to gain a much deeper understanding of the processions and what it means to march along directly with the members of a Brotherhood.

Some of those carrying the paso show their devotion to penance by walking the many miles and hours of the procession barefoot, just as my wife's grandfather did almost a century ago.

I will be blogging throughout Holy Week, hopefully with new insight into the processions and rituals, but also about tapas, and more!  If you want a reminder every time I put out a new post, click here and submit your email adddress.  Also, please feel free to post comments.

Tapas are one of my favorite subjects to blog about, so not only will you be getting religion, but also, food!

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