In our travels around Spain this year, covering all-but 5000 miles, to pray into the Muslim expulsions we planned the end of the travels to be in Gibraltar being the point of entry in 711AD. We realised that our focus would be much wider than that, and focused a lot on economic issues. Maybe the exposure of the ‘Paradise Papers’ have some relationship to that time; maybe the continual flushing out of corruption in Spain (where did 40billion euros of public money disappear?); maybe finally the acknowledgement that M. Rajoy in the Caja B (illegal / supposedly hidden) accounts of the government is indeed Mariano Rajoy – though the judge who was clear on this has subsequently been replaced…!!!!
While preparing for the final trip in Gibraltar we were in the most southerly point of Continental Europe (Tarifa). Liminal places (and experiences) are very key and while there I had a dream that was extremely helpful and full of insight. One part of it though contained a dialogue with a ‘neighbour’ who eventually said he understood what we were doing, but pleaded that we did not forget Badajoz. Badajoz is in the West of Spain very near the Portuguese border, and although orignally we had no plans to go there, we felt obligated to include the city in our journey.
We were probably not quite prepared for what we found there. We were hit very hard with the ‘forgotten’ state of the city. There had been much blood shed in the city, one of the most recent being in the Civil War when some 4000 children, women and men (all unarmed) were taken to the bullring and slaughtered. Since then a new city building has been built there with a focus on the arts. Outside is a sculpture that was placed there to honour those who were slaughtered. There is no plaque on the sculpture, nothing to indicate what it was. I even asked someone who was walking there dog if he knew what it was, and he only vaguely realised there was something there, but confessed he did not know. When the sculpture was initiated there was a gathering of families who had lost people in that event. It was unveiled with no speech, nor acknowledgement of what had taken place. Forgotten…
We do not think we have been to a more forgotten place. We prayed, wine on ground… left heavy.
This week Pablo Iglesias has been in the same place. He has been speaking in the building (Palacio de Congresos). He is calling for the memory to be honoured, that Badajoz will not be forgotten. For us very moving to see and hear. We called for singers to sing and push back the spirit of death and forgetfulness. Pablo’s first thanks to the artists – to the singers.
Pablo professes no faith in God, though indicated that his grandfather who grew up in Extremadura would have really like the current pope.
Moving… also a provocation to us. Keep pushing.
Also so in line with what we believe. The body of Christ must open the way, the ones stepping in might not be those who identify with the body of Christ. The ‘priesthood’ theme is so central in this phase.
A footnote: increasingly we are looking at the so-called years of transition, 1975-78, and the need to engage with the centre to get a shift for the land as a whole. A privilege but also battle.