I do not know how much the current unrest in Cataluña is being covered in international press. Below is a link to a set of photos from the third night of unrest. At this time there are 5 marches also en route from across Cataluña that are due to arrive in Barcelona on Friday.
There are questions that arise at such times, though the questions raised are always present, just not in such a provocative way as they are currently. Two simple questions that can be asked (though not so easily answered) are:
- How much is what we are seeing simply a revelation of what was already there beneath the surface?
- What level of expectation can we have to see a shift in the current crisis?
The only aspect of such a clear crisis as we are facing currently is that it helps one to focus. It is ever so easy to go through life and not see what is there. We can isolate ourselves, even isolate ourselves inside the Christian community, even by experiencing heaven’s touch, but not face the huge issues around us. I passionately believe that ultimately the keys for change do not lie in a White House, a #10 or a Moncloa (or a Brussels!), but are in the hands of believers, who understand that ‘all authority in heaven and on earth’ are in the hands of the Risen Lord.
Of course the current crisis has a context. A long historical context where two stories have been rehearsed. A story of oppression, restriction and persecution; and an opposing story of rebelliousness, selfishness and greed. The immediate past few days have added fuel to the fire with the sentencing of a number of Catalan political leaders. The result has been a large divide. Some of course protest concerning the harshness of the sentences – sentences for enabling people to express a vote concerning their future, and that vote facilitated by those who do not have any accusation of violence against them. Even last night from prison, Oriel Junqueras who was sentenced to 13 years, was appealing for non-violence, saying that ‘this is not who we are.’ Others have called the sentence a disgraceful sign of state weakness, calling the action a ‘coup d’etat’, and the sentences a betrayal of the constitution. That extreme view can be seen with one party leader appealing to the king to intervene as the sentences should have been up to 70 years long.
There is a context historically, but there is also a context spiritually. In a few days we should have the bones of Franco removed from the Valley of the Fallen. For some 5 years we have been praying into the constitution of Spain, and four years ago went to the Valley of the Fallen where Franco is buried, since that time we have prayed into the Transition years (1975-78) as we sensed they were far from complete, though almost certainly a wonderful result given that the country was coming out of fascist dictatorship to democracy and with a Civil War as the backdrop. Just a few days ago the acting PM said that when the bones are removed the loop of the Transition will be closed. We are grateful for that prophetic declaration, particularly as we had not seen it so clearly.
The end of a loop! Little wonder so much has kicked off. At a personal level we leave one framework and enter another one through the doorway of crisis, whether that be small or great. Likewise if this is a shift to a new framework in Spain it is not surprising that we are now facing crisis at a great level.
Without a doubt the current situation shows us what is there and things are being brought to the light. They also sadly become the soil to enable what is there to grow to a greater level. So I do not accept that we just sit back and say that it was there all along. Salt was one of the analogies Jesus used for his followers, and the salt of the NT from the Dead Sea had a strong property of preventing growth of what pollutes society. We are meant to limit what manifests as we take responsibility for our setting. The salt likewise, containing as it did phosphates, was also a promoter of good growth, a fertiliser. Our presence is meant to promote the good coming through.
We are not silent… we call for heaven’s help… we recognise the closing of a loop, the end of an era… and we call because we know that salt, as a metaphor, suggests that we do not need to see the full manifestation of unfettered division, hatred, anger and violence.
The next 20+ days leading to the national election will be very challenging indeed. Turning points often come at great expense. One of the key turning points in the original Transition took place with the non-violent response to a brutal assassination. That event was a major draw on us to live where we live, in the shadow of one of the most powerful sculptures remembering that event. We are watchful in this season for obvious reasons.
This has been a personally insulting year with many set-backs in our focus, and it probably indicates that we missed some keys along the way, yet even when we fail there is not a loss that cannot be redeemed.
What can we expect in Spain and into the crises we face? As we increasingly stand in the gap in whatever way we are led in our diverse settings we can expect a new landscape to appear that is more fertile than before. I remain ever so hopeful. None of us are alone… heaven loves to send in help. And we need it ever so much.