Memories remembered

Just under a year ago in our journeys around Spain we visited the city of Badajoz, in the west of Spain just a few kilometres from the Portuguese border. We were provoked to go there during the many months we had travelled seeking to pray into the history of the Muslim expulsions in Spain. We aimed to finish in Gibraltar as that was the entry point in 711AD, and were there over the weekend of September 10th. We had not planned to go to Badajoz but in a dream we had a passionate request:

But do not forget Badajoz and the life threatening storm that is coming there tonight. (Post on the dream in Tarifa/).

When we went to Badajoz we were not ready for what we experienced. It was truly the ‘forgotten place’, and we were more deeply impacted than we realised. Even a local did not know what a sculpture was representing – it represented one of the most brutal massacres of civilians in the whole Spanish civil war. It was opened with an invite by the town council and many of the families affected were gathered – and it was opened without any speeches!!

The place of forgetfulness is the place where memories are kept alive – in the sense of they have not been healed so can be pulled on so that history can repeat / rhyme.

What does one do in those places? Gayle and I are pretty clueless. We walked, prayed, poured out wine and salt. We even tried to sing!!! If anyone knows what to do please send answers on a postcard. If I were to send in my answer it would be ‘stand clueless, and stand until you can move on.’ Probably a pretty rubbish answer.

We were deeply moved when a few months later Pablo Iglesias came to Badajoz and in a public speech spoke of the history and how it will not be forgotten. I wrote about this:
Don’t forget Badajoz on Dec. 2nd last year. So often there is a follow up by someone in some measure of authority to stand where someone who did not know what to do but stood there in the name of Jesus stood before.

Just yesterday we came now across this article in: El Diario outlining guided walks that bring to remembrance the slaughter in Badajoz. The bullring in the photo is where we focused when we were there. It is no longer there and this is where the ‘forgotten’ sculpture is placed.

To say we, the clueless ones, are blown away is an understatement. Let there now be an unlocking.

In the article we can read:

La memoria es un ejercicio democrático. El conocimiento del pasado es necesario para no cometer los mismos errores. Las visitas guiadas quieren fomentar la conciencia histórica para avanzar hacia el futuro, señala José Manuel Rodríguez desde la asociación AECOS.

La Matanza de Badajoz sigue suscitando mucha controversia, y las rutas abogan por visibilizar la memoria de la ciudadanía pacense. “Consideramos que es un hecho histórico que, de manera interesada, fue invisibilizado y ocultado. Manipulado”, destacan desde la organización.

Memory is a democratic exercise. Knowledge of the past is necessary so as not to make the same mistakes. The guided tours want to promote historical awareness to enable forward movement, says José Manuel Rodríguez from the AECOS association.

The massacre de Badajoz continues to provoke a lot of controversy, and the routes promote making the memory of the citizens of Badajoz visible. “We consider that it is a historical fact that, in an interested way, was made invisible and hidden. Manipulated “, stand out from the organization.

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Don’t forget Badajoz!

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.

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Way down south: Tarifa

Camping in the pine trees on the most southerly geography of continental Europe – further south than a couple of African cities – was where we were the night before heading home. Being eaten by mosquitos,in spite of mosquito net was less than ideal!

Tarifa

Extreme points are often liminal spaces. In ancient times they had myths attached to them and likewise today there can be new age spirituality attached to them. With Jacob who fled his home we read that he had a major shaping dream at one of those places, a boundary place. In the dream he encountered angels, and likewise on his return he encountered an angelic meeting point. We might add to the liminal space that it was a strategic moment in his journey.

In coming to Tarifa we had now travelled as far west as we were going, and of course as far south as we could go. We had one more place to travel to (I hope to post on that tomorrow) and this would take us on the road past Gibraltar, the last place on this journey from Lugo via Santo Toribio (from May this year). Beyond Gibraltar Morocco might well pull us, and also in our travels the era of the Second republic (1931 to the Civil War) has come into focus. How can it not when for example 4000 of the priests in Madrid were killed. There will always be a next journey, but major phase of this journey ends on September 10th in Gibraltar.

In Tarifa the Lord gave a dream that had many parts to it, much of it relating to the planned time in Gibraltar. There were also tangential encouragements to Gayle and I in it. For example, we met a verbally hostile group who were not impressed with what we were planning and challenging us about our belief in God and how he could send suffering. They referenced one city where God was about to send judgement. We responded with a ‘God is not like that’ kind of response. Eventually even the most hostile calmed down, and the response was ‘we have never heard this about God in Spain’. Very encouraging. Beyond that one of the people in the crowd (a neighbour) said that he understood what we were about to do in Gibraltar and that he too had had a dream, then he went on to say ‘But do not forget Badajoz and the life threatening storm that is coming there tonight’. It was a heart cry.

The dream both helped give a strong focus on Gibraltar and re-shaped the next road trip which begins on Sunday.

Paul had a vision of a man from Macedonia calling them over. His dream re-shaped their journey, when twice he found himself pushing for doors that did not open (Acts 16:8-10). I have often wondered about the vision of the man, for the open door he goes through is that of a woman, Lydia. Maybe he did meet ‘a man’, maybe the Philippian jailor was that man, maybe the vision got him there.

We will head to Badajoz over the next two weeks. We had forgotten it, mainly because it does not feature highly on the expulsions of the Muslims. It has a history as per elsewhere of being conquered during the ReConquista, and being a border city has been a strategic place of warfare and conflict, but expulsion-wise it has not stood out.

Badajoz has opened us up to Portugal, and as we were planning these next two weeks we were looking at Portugal and asking ‘when’. The next morning an email came in from David Vincent (London). He had just been in Portugal in the region of the main battle in the ReConquista (Ourique) and suggested that there was a connection to what we were doing. And then… a journey we made in July 2012 came back to mind which again highlighted that a door was opening now for us into southern Portugal. We now leave next Sunday with a re-shaped set of places to travel to. We will not forget Badajoz en route to Gibraltar.

Maybe we will find a strong ReConquista / expulsion connection. Maybe we will come over to help ‘a man’ and find ‘a woman’. Maybe but we are grateful for dreams and seek to take them seriously.

(We do have some thoughts on the significance of Badajoz for the era we are praying into, but are always surprised by what one discovers on the ground. No two geographies are the same. We are grateful for the connection in Tarifa and are wondering if we should sleep there again the night before we go to Gibraltar.)

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