A sweet day!!

Today was a big day to close a loop in Spain, and of course what I write here is a perspective on the events. The Valley of the Fallen was a burial place for Francisco Franco (driving force in the Civil War (1936-39), dictator until his death in 1975), José Antonio Primo de Rivera (founder of the Fanlange party, shot in Alicante, 1936) and 33,000 combatants from the war – from both sides… but many of them were also left in unmarked graves. (Spain is said to be second behind Cambodia for mass unmarked graves.)

In the Civil war there were terrible atrocities committed by both sides, so a one-side reading cannot do justice to what went on. However, the inappropriateness of Franco being buried in a place of honour along the dishonouring of those crushed has been an offence to many Spanish. And of course for Gayle and I this has been a focus for us for many years. It has taken us to the (now previous) actual grave of Franco, his birth home – the day after which parliament passed that he was to be exhumed. We have also been to the grave of Franco’s daughter which is in the main cathedral of Madrid, and was the place the family had wanted Franco to be buried if the exhumation went ahead. Gayle placed a blade of grass on it, declaring that all of us are as a blade of grass. Transient, and the effects of Franco’s domination was over. There followed many court cases fight both the exhumation and seeking to ensure that following any exhumation that the remains would be placed in the Almudena Cathedral in Madrid. Nice to get a result – though we are sure that whatever difference the above made, any shift that takes place is almost always due to the many unknown acts of people who have stood for the future.

So 80 years after the end of the Civil War, 44 years after Franco’s death and 41 years after the (supposed) end of the Transition to democracy, a HUGE event has taken place. We are so pleased that his remains were not moved into the main Madrid Cathedral. We have been praying and declaring – with some huge setbacks – that ‘Madrid will be the tomb of fascism’. Had his remains been moved into the Cathedral it would have become an easily accessible shrine to fascism.

The prime minister with great perception said a few days ago that this will bring the Transition cycle to a close. Those words sparked faith in our spirits as we had been praying into the completion of what was in its time, a good move forward, but increasingly was being shown as lacking completeness.

This day marks something enormous!! And we love days such as this. Now there are some real possibilities… and also perhaps even greater challenges. For the past 3 weeks I have had 2 nights of unbroken sleep – last night being one – so it seems to signify that there is a peace that had come…. that peace marks the closure of an era. ‘Tomorrow’, whenever that is, we will move forward from a place of rejoicing to put our shoulder back into things. As one wise politician said today (with a play on words), the remains of Franco have not been moved, his corpse has. The remains of Franco are in and through all the institutions… now is the time to move the remains of Franco.

A significant peg that was holding things in place has been removed. A brindis (toast) is in order, and tomorrow we will be calling for tomorrow. If the past cycle has been closed, now the only immediate question is what shapes what is to come.

Below is a provocative photo. The flag is a republican flag. Bottom line we do not give our allegiance. I was tempted to photoshop Gayle on the photo as this was something she might have crazily done!!

No it is not Gayle!! The flag? But the cross to mark such a place is not appropriate.

Stick with the plan!

The above house is for sale. It does have a history. We are not so interested in the sale of it but the history of the previous occupants… oh yes!

These next few posts will be adapted from an irregular newsletter that we send out in which we try to keep people up to date with our journey, both in terms of the practical side (what we have done) and how our thoughts are developing. In reality all theology / understanding should develop in a response to practice. We see this very clearly in Acts 15, the ‘first church council’, where those immersed in the biblical narrative needed to hear what the Holy Spirit was doing. They did not proof text their theology but found how the work of the Spirit was resonating with the texts of Scripture. Their understanding of what was taking place had to resonate with Scripture, but their Scripture had to be critiqued by what they had heard was taking place.

When I sensed the Lord was originally speaking (left of field) about relocating to Mallorca in the early months of 2008 I eventually called Michael Schiffmann to see if this at all resonated with him. He was incredibly helpful and outlined what he understood as three spiritual powers that would need to be confronted. The first was a spirit of piracy that was focused in on the banking world; this spirit had opened the door to betrayal and once betrayal was loosed a spirit of destruction and murder came forth.

We held this for the first two years while there, always looking to see what this would mean and eventually in the Autumn / Fall of 2010 in the early hours of the morning I found something that had evaded our research to that point in time. Crazy as the research did not have to go deep, yet it is usual to only find what is needed when the time is right. I discovered that a certain Juan March had engaged in all kinds of irregular financial dealings, eventually forming a bank called Banca March. The most definitive biography on his life was called ‘the Last Pirate of the Mediterranean’. I could, and others have, filled a book with his dealings, but right there as I discovered this I realised we had a connection to what Michael had informed us about. Piracy… and at work in the banks. I read on that morning and very soon I discovered that he had a business colleague, his cousin, who he believed both was cheating him financially and with respect to a relationship with his own wife. Betrayal. It was not long after these suspicions took root that the cousin was murdered. All three manifestations in one family. A family who have been termed highly secretive, and whose bank has been twice declared as a result of the ‘stress tests’ the most secure bank in all of Europe (in 2011 and 2017).

We had an amazing connection one Saturday morning in the middle of Mallorca. Having gone to a deserted graveyard we had this expectation of meeting someone. Amazingly in this deserted location we met the nephew of Juan March’s cousin who had been murdered! He then introduced us to the nephew of Juan March. This man was the historian of the family and showed us, amongst many other items, a copy of ‘The Last Pirate of the Mediterranean’ in Russian as it had been used by the KGB to show them the evils of capitalism.

Over the years we have often wondered what was the result of that connection and have been very happy to leave it in the hands of God, as we were not focused on simply one bank but on the shaking of all economic systems that oppress. We have also seen that there is a pattern of piracy (call it greed, crossing boundaries etc.) leading to betrayal and then death. Jesus’ death certainly reversed that pattern.

Moving to mainland of Spain we have focused of course much more into the political arena and the ongoing spiritual presence of Francoism. Currently we are facing a practical issue of seeing the remains of Franco moved from its current location with the results of the current election (April 28) either seeing this accomplished or revoked; and an ongoing issue of the public rise of Fascism. This takes our energy and focus.

There are ongoing watchfulness that we are all involved in and then there are times of focused activity when there seems to be the moment of seeing something shift forward. Roger and Sue Mitchell were with us for a few days and during those days of course we focused on some dreams and insights that we had. Interestingly into this context Roger gave us this Scripture:

It is good that you grasp one thing and also not let go of the other; for the one who fears God comes forth with both of them (Eccles. 7:18).

We had been grasping for years the issues surrounding the Civil War, Franco and the shifts needed as a result and, although not quite neglecting, close to letting go of the Banca March focus. Here then was a Scripture helping us to lay hold of one and not let go of the other.

In then pursuing the current Franco issues we had tracked down where the family home was, not surprisingly in the same vicinity as the Banca March Foiundation. Then… we found a well guarded piece of news. The day, the exact day, we moved to Madrid to sign the papers and part with the money to purchase this apartment, the most secure bank in Europe entered a major crisis. This crisis blew on the same day, and perhaps even the same hour, that we faced the possible (legal) betrayal where we would have parted with in excess of 100k and lost the apartment with no recourse to the finances. We certainly prayed but knew that if we were to make any entry into Madrid we had to face a possible betrayal in the eye. Maybe – and I will pick this principle up in a future post – our possible small betrayal made a contribution into the shake up in the bank. Currently they are trying to keep the lid on it and manage it, but it seems this will change the shape of the bank significantly. We are not saying what will happen, we do not know what needs to happen, but we pull on the sign. What is stable and solid can be shaken and the purpose of shaking is to release what cannot be shaken.

In those days with Roger and Sue we went to the family home – currently on the market for a cool 50m and from there to the USA embassy, simply to cut the pull on the soul of Spain from within the USA, and from there to the Banca March foundation. Our tools? Our feeble attempts to stay with whatever plan God had given and some bread crumbs soaked in wine – the act of Jesus at the last supper. All betrayal is swallowed up at the cross, thankfully humanity’s betrayal of their privileged calling.

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