Where, how and what

A historic election took place last night in the Southern comunidad of mainland Spain in Andalucia. Historic as there was the breaking of a 36 year hold by a particular party, but more historic in the level of vote a new ultra-right party received. At one level a resurgence of Francoism, using the language of, for example, ReConquista, but positioned within the rise of the popularist and nationalistic ultra-right across Europe. Two further provocative aspects for us… the entry in the South, and the birth of the new party leader in Bilbao (the north). Some 4 years ago we went the first time to Bilbao to make a declaration that from there new thinking will come forth into Spain. We left though to pray for the richness of diversity within unity.

I had an email recently from someone who in passing asked a question about the EU, stating that I was ‘for the EU’. Maybe I am… maybe I am not. It is far from perfect, and not being a fan of bureaucracy and red tape it is not too difficult to see why anyone could find one or two reasons to resist the ‘beast’ (small ‘b’ as this applies to all power bases that control). With the EU there seems to be two choices – get out for the above reasons or try to stay in and see change. Pulling back, strengthening national sovereignty and seeing the breakup of the EU is more likely, in my opinion, to further strengthen what we saw last night in Spain. And it is the future that could spring from last night that is the concern. Living in mainland Europe it is probably not surprising that I am ever hopeful if we can hang in together that there will be change, particularly as the EU, in measure, acts as a lever to weaken the sovereignty expressed in nationhood.

I am not a political animal as I have so little understanding of how it works and what really ‘left’ or ‘right’ means, but I have many concerns about what is rising. When we pull back, when we have language that seeks to exclude all others of a different opinion, parties that seek to shut the freedom of the press then there is great concern for the future. The election in Andalucia last night certainly was an earthquake and a strong sign that the past can come back around.

We live at a point in history when the unthinkable could bite. Whatever the future of the EU, whatever finally (!!) outworks with respect to the Brexit, we will continue to pull for friendship across the borders, co-operation, a weakening of sovereignty so that borders are not shut inhumanely. One has to be optimistic when we know that we have access to prayer. Prayer to go deeper – yes we will have to go deeper – and pull up roots, and to connect with imagination for the future.

An earthquake last night? Maybe. A wake up call? Certainly. A provocation? Indeed.

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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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Getting up to date

A couple of hours ago we arrived in La Linea – the Spanish side of the border with Gibraltar. A bed and a shower in a room – luxury for a night or two!! Dust, sand and who knows what else went down the shower plug!! As per usual we have been without WiFi for the past days, so a quick catch up here.

After leaving Huelva we drove to the Portugal side of the border, then drove on to Lagos (not the Nigerian one….) to meet a Brazilian couple who have been there a few months. As is often the case they have to figure out what to from here. Changes / transition like that are enormous, and much easier to speak into than live through. The necessity of the desert is that is the place where you can see what cannot be seen and hear what cannot be heard.

Our main focus in Portugal was two situations – Ourique where there was a decisive battle in 1139 that helped establish Portugal as a nation and overcome the Muslims and Evora that Gerald the Fearless took from the Moors in 1165. He later went on to take the city and taifa of Badajoz (1169). Both situations surprised us a lot. There was not the heavy element that we had discovered elsewhere in our travels. It felt as some aspects had already been undone. Maybe there had been others there long before us, or the Christian presence was living in a different spirit to the ReConquista? It felt as if it should have been heavier!! Mr. ‘Fearless’ is certainly someone of interest, described as the ‘El Cid’ of Portugal he likewise seemed to play both sides, reminiscent also of a certain Juan March whose legacy we are sure to encounter in the next few days…

We slept the night the Portuguese side of the border in Elvas before crossing over to Badajoz. We wanted to be there fresh and ready. Badajoz had come to our attention in a dream a few weeks ago when a Spanish man came to me asking that we don’t forget Badajoz and the life threatening storm coming to it. It was a very strong time there. That city needs joy, laughter and songs. If ever we need a throw-back to some kind of March for Jesus (‘Shine Jesus shine…’) then Badajoz is the location. It is great to have ideals – no Imperialism, the Pauline Gospel restored and all that – but a group of people singing on the streets would do something in that city!

We experienced so deeply the blood shed there, the forgotteness of the city. When things come this city is one that gets hit harder than other cities in Spain was our sense. Taken in the ReConquista, taken by Wellington at great cost – and not cost to his troops alone, but to the city as his disciplined troops went on a rampage of rape and pillage, then in the Civil War when there was the repeat of that history with rape and pillage and some 4000 civilians were murdered after the city was taken. Truly those events were storms, and not simply life-threatening but life-taking storms.

We went to the old bull ring where the slaughter took place. No real acknowledgment of the event. I asked a man walking his dog about one of the sculptures that we knew was supposedly to be a memorial to the victims of the Civil War brutality. A neighbour in that area and he did not know what it was. FORGOTTEN. We said we would not forget you Badajoz as we poured out wine, and the city needs those who will be there to remember the city. If the story will not be told, it will not be remembered, and if not told and remembered it will not be owned; if not owned it can only repeat. Maybe in our travels this was the most challenging of all the places we have been. Come on you singers!!!

In the image above the background building is the palace of congress for arts – built where the old bull ring was, the bull ring where the slaughter took place. It should be a sign of hope and of a new future, but the reality is (and we found this before when visiting Badajoz years ago) that the old allows a semblance of a new to manifest but only allows it to be a semblance, as in reality it swallows it up. In the foreground is a sculpted work in metal that was placed there to remember those who had been slaughtered. This was the piece that I asked the man about. It has no plaque, it was opened with the families of those affected present, without any speech, without any mark of silence or acknowledgement of what had gone on. FORGOTTEN.

From there, pre-Gibraltar, we went to Hornachos, ‘the last refuge of the Moriscos’. A small village, but something strong there. When we left we felt something very strange. We might not need to visit Morocco in this trajectory as from Hornachos we were able to call for the new convivencia in Spain. The last refuge had seed in it to call for the future. From that time on we have been more focused on the future than the past. Strange as we are now overlooking the rock of Gibraltar. The place of power and where the Muslims first came. What of the past will we need to address here? We are not sure. What of the future needs to be called for – that is what we will discover. We are rested and ready. Today is the first time we have been in the shadow of the rock knowing this is the right time.

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Niebla and Huelva

Always a few challenges on the road regarding charging devices and good internet access and now we discovered that our phone contract does not give us roaming in Portugal. A little difficult as we are due to meet a Brazilian couple who relocated to Lagos, people I met many years ago… So now almost sorted!!! But we had a great day yesterday, a great day for us, so here goes (and one image today that I managed to find on the internet – we do have some great images so use your imagination!!)

Way back when we were living in Cádiz we went on a trip up through Spain connected to the expulsion of Jews from Cádiz and with the promise we would find angels at a key point. It was in a season when we encountered swifts at key moments, including one that flew in our window, flew round the room and out again, then repeated this twice more before flying off. In Niebla we found an openness in the Spirit, felt that was the place, prayed and swifts showed up. That was probably 2012/13.

Yesterday we visited there but this time connected to the ReConquista (it is very interesting to note the parallel aspects to the Jew and Muslim story in Spain). Niebla, now a smallish town was once the centre for a sizeable kingdom that went right across the south of Portugal (the Algarve). In the centre of town there is statue of ‘the last king of the Algarve’. Mûsâ Ibn Muhammad Ibn Nassir Ibn Mahfûz (the last king / emir) was defeated by Alfonso X in 1262 who had sided with a rival Muslim leader then when he had his objectives met took control. Our prayer time there was strong, I pushed into the history and (of course somewhat subjective) there was a deep sense of touching the history. I also – and will continue to do so – prayed into what we now believe was a specific curse left across Spain through the expulsions of there being no rest in the land. Gayle has picked up on the descendants of those who went before and prayed for them including those in Morocco.

We then left to go back to our van, back through the gate of ‘socorro’ (help but more of rescue) – the gate that Alfonso entered the city. There was one person sitting near our van, and only one person in that area. I asked him a question about one of the Spanish words on a plaque. He instantly opened his phone and searched it for us. We began to talk. ‘Are you from here?’ ‘I am from Morocco but am Spanish.’ He was born in Niebla but to Moroccan parents. We talked a little about what we are doing and then he opened up about his own faith (Islam) and issues of racism and suspicion which of course have increased since the Barcelona attack. He said that now walking into a cafe he senses he is looked at differently with people wondering if he too might be a potential terrorist. We then did a small prophetic act with him – put some money in his hands as a sign for his future and for the future of Spain. Could he even have been a descendant of the former emir?

At this point two photos that are on a phone we cannot access would have been sweet!! Although neither of us are of the ‘selfie’ kind of photo taking people (I hear the shock at that revelation) we took two photos yesterday. The first was of us with the statue of the emir. The next one – and we only realised later – was of us with Samir, the young Spanish Moroccan we met. Past and present, with a seed for the future. We now pray for him to find Jesus amidst dreams and to be a young man of peace for the future, for a renewed deep convivencia. If the wolf will lie with the lamb… then we must have convivencia as a kingdom sign.

Huelva: Christopher Columbus

In 2014 we made a little attempt at praying into Columbus Day while in Madrid. It seems that there has been more objection to it since that prayer. There is of course a tie to the ReConquista and Columbus (1492, he sails; Jews are exiled and Granada falls). He is sent out to conquer for Spain and for God – same theme as in the ReConquista and in the Civil War.

We believe we are at a time in history when we have to go much deeper. Each generation has to be obedient to God in their generation, and what was permitted in one generation is not necessarily permitted in the next. God has been in and through Christendom, not because he approved of it, but he goes where we go. We see the same principle in the life of Israel – he is in and with the priests, the king and the temple, but none of those three elements did he call for! It is time to undo the Christendom agenda and pattern, so it was awesome to stand before the statue in Huelva and declare a shift. For us a connection with our prayers in 2014. We will head south next week toward Gibraltar to meet up with others there, and en route we will pass near to where Columbus first sailed from, Puerta Santa Maria. We had wondered if we had to go there en route, but as soon as we stepped out of the van in Huelva we both knew that this was the power source and the place to push for the shift. The statue says it all – Columbus travelling to conquer supported by the cross!!

Today we head West and head for Lagos, then to Albufeira so that tomorrow we can be set ready for two places up through Portugal: Ourique and Evora sleeping in Elvas at the end of tomorrow – right across from the place we will seek not to forget, Badajoz.

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A summary round up: Sunday to Wednesday

2017-08-31 10:55:14

I was hoping to blog each day but with challenges on internet, access to electricity for re-charging I have decided to get a summary blog out there bringing our travels up to date, and will major on the time (9 days away) in Gibraltar when I return home. Sorry no pictures – and that is your loss as the landscapes have been spectacular. Over the mountain pass Via Puerto de la Ragua (2000metres / 6600ft) just has to be done! This is our third extended time away and by tonight we should be across the border and in Portugal.

We are also trying to pace ourselves with an occasional down day. We had one yesterday in the national park just west of Huelva. This was the scene of a huge wild fire this summer, the evidence of which is clear. Today is Thursday, we left home last Sunday. Our first place was

Polop, one of many mountain villages in Valencia (Comunidad). In one sense we could have chosen any number of others as the history varies but there is such a pattern of hostility and violence. We chose Polop because of a very perverted response. After ‘converting’ from Islam to Christianity and being baptised local Christians then attacked and killed 300 Moriscos with the shout of ‘Now we will raise their souls to heaven and fill our pockets with their coins’. While praying by the church Gayle felt strongly that somehow not only is the memory held in the land, but that descendants – knowingly and unknowingly – continue with the memory in their ‘blood’. These things are challenging to wrap one’s head around but the complexities of generational relationships are probably much more complex than we realise. So our prayers also went for the descendants many of whom are probably in Morocco, where there certainly was a strong connection to the Barcelona attack.

Las Alpujarras: second visit

From Polop we travelled to Caniles (east of Granada by about an hour. We were deeply privileged to be introduced to Antonio and Antonia who live there on the north side of the Alpujarras. Truly people of the land. Antonio found Jesus while deeply searching in all kinds of directions while living as a young man in the Alpujarras. He understands the deep spirituality that is there, the searches that end up with the seekers mostly ending in despair. Connecting with the land and also history. Antonio is in charge of the water supplies to the fields of the area, with the same system of diverting water that has been in place for 1500 years. We slept the night in their house – sleeping in a literal cave! That was a first for us. In Caniles before we began our journey into the Alpujarras we prayed at the monument marking the Civil War. An interesting parallel again with the ReConquista is that many Republicans were on the high ground (like the Muslims) and they were thrown of it by Franco’s forces. Evictions carried out by the ‘Christians’ and throwing off people who were not looking (on the whole) to be antagonistic but were the stewards of the land. Again it underlined for us that we need to continue as Spain could be coming to another cycle. In a few days time with a referendum in Cataloñia, with one politician suggesting that if there was Independence then Cataloñia would raise its own army.

Last time we were travelling the Aplujarras we were using GPS, particularly when we were going to a small village up narrow roads up the mountain gorges. Not so with Antonio. We probably covered 200 miles. No map in sight, tracks that frankly were only at times just wider than his (small) car. I even think at one point he was relieved that we made it. That was after we had climbed to the highest point amidst thunder, lightning and rain. We prayed at:

Guadix: where there is an impressive castle built for the ReConquista. Built to control and then advance from the whole area.

Laujar de Andarax: this was one of the most marked places in history. A priest was tortured, Eventually his eyes gouged out and he was forced to eat them. On the other side when the Christian army arrived they massacred many, including blowing up the Mosque where 200 women and children were taking refuge. No plaque in the town that we could find that made a record of this.

Cadiar: here there was the exchanging of whose hands the town was in numerous times over. At one stage a regiment of Christian soldiers were murdered while sleeping. And of course the response. Blood upon blood, and truly it cries out from the ground.

Juviles: here a number of prisoners tried to prevent a ‘Christian’ soldier from raping one of the Muslim women. Scores of unarmed prisoners were then killed in cold blood.

One aspect that had been with me all day was that as well as there being a curse on the land by all the bloodshed and for evicting the stewards that I could hear those who were evicted specifically cursing the land for those who would come replacing them through conquest. I heard the ‘you will have no rest, you will not find peace, but will face destruction’. Gayle reminded me later that are words from the latest Dayesh video targeting Spain. It is the sad story of so many who come to the Alpujarras seeking an alternative future. Going from one search to another, with many ending their lives either in meaningless or literally ending their lives. It was great to be with Antonio a true steward of the land, knowing every inch of the territory, the animals, the vegetation, herbs and fruit. We prayed into that curse but I do not sense that it is yet broken. More to be done!!

At the end of Monday night we came to Granada, and on the Tuesday drove almost to Huelva. Yesterday we walked a good part of the coastline, and today plan to get to Niebla, Huelva and by night time to be in Portugal.

Niebla is very interesting. Around 2012 /13 (don’t have the dates on me) we went with Simon and Amy following a word that had been given to us about the eviction of Jews from Cadiz and of finding angels. We came upon Niebla and were deeply impacted there. In the town square Gayle photographed a statue of ‘the last (Muslim) king of the Algarve. This was long before we were on the ReConquista journey. A few days ago she remembered this. We tried to find it on google maps, and eventually found the square where the photo was taken. However no king of the Algarve in sight, rather a ‘Christian’ king… Yet the palm trees in both images matched up. We found that between the time of the google map images and the photo the Christian king had been replaced by history that was further back. Replacing the ReConquista image with something more ancient to us indicates a place owning its history, and probably why we found the angels there. We will revisit as this is our door in to the Algarve. Then Huelva – a Christopher Columbus location… 1492 and all that.

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Frigiliana

Our last stop on the way home. In 1569 this mountain village was attacked by what was deemed some of the most virulent of soldiers of the era. Defending themselves through rolling boulders down the slopes the village held out for 20 days but eventually the 5,000 strong force stormed the village resulting in ‘the customary bloody retribution’. Over 7,000 ‘moriscos’ died, the survivors being expelled.

We drove up to the village, this being the last place for us to visit, we were ready for one more push, but parking up we thought ‘but this place is light’. Given the history we were surprised.

It seems that artists have flourished in the village and the story of the past is in the open. There has been an embracing of the story (if we own the story we can write the ending) that has shifted something there. Each year there is a celebration of the three cultures (religions) over four days at the end of August.

It was a good place to finish this trip. Reminded that we all drink from the one pool, that there has to be respect, and that Jesus taught us to love one and all, even if they were to declare themselves to be our enemy. The gospel is not about one people dominating over another, it is not about imposing our faith on others, and it is certainly not about using the cross to crush others. As believers we can create an environment where there is freedom and respect where people can discover who they are. This is not about Jesus on the same plane as others. The incarnation is not the story of a good man!

What a mess we have made of things. Those two weeks on the road were challenging at so many levels. The level of hatred in the past… and of course here today with nationalism, white supremacy, religious and ideological wars. The source of which we know: the devil who was a murderer from the beginning, and the devil is the devil even if he uses the cross to defend his murderous behaviour.

Yes we returned tired. But the image of a fountain in the village that followed that has released water for years is one of the abiding images. Ultimately one source to sustain us all. The Gospel affirms that and the Gospel affirms that Jesus alone is the door to the Father.

Frigiliana

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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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Granada to Cordoba via…

This was a 350kms day, starting out in Órgiva through Lanjaron (west gate to the Alpujarras), up to Granada, on to Jaen and La Carolina / Las Navas de Tolosa then to Córdoba. Granada – the last kingdom to surrender and clearly a city with an impressive history. We will revisit Granada at another time, connecting there with people of the land. This time we parked up (losing a hub cap on the way on the cobbled streets!) and climbed up to the central Mosque. Obviously, and understandably, seen as a symbolic achievement by those of the Islamic faith. What a challenge… freedom of religion? It is very provocative to realise that there is no physical level battle but our warfare is heavenly, and challenging to think of the NT context where faith in Jesus was for so long a miority belief in the public arena.

We were in Cordoba by the end of the day and the next morning. This is truly an impressive city, modern and a clear place of learning. In history the development of literature and study there was right at the forefront within the world of the middle ages. Cordoba was one of the first mega cities of its time. Something of this is still in the city. The gifting is there and evident.

 

We had a very moving morning in the Cathedral – or in the Mosque? The Cathedral took over the Mosque, so it is known as the Mesquita-Catedral. Beautiful and truly awe-inspiring. What a place to unravel our string! (From Lugo where we began this journey, May 21, where we bought a roll of string saying that something was unravelling from Lugo to Gibraltar, and we have slowly unravelled it as we have prayed.) So in the Cathedral there had to be an unravelling and that is what we did.

The pivot point of the day though was in going to the battle field of Las Navas de Tolosa (1212) and the monument at La Carolina.

Navas de Tolosa

The scale of it and the symbolism really are an abomination. A bag of salt was deposited all around it and a strong renunciation. This distortion of the cross is what disempowers the cross. At the cross Jesus was stripped bare and made an open show of – the result Paul tells us was that the powers were exposed and stripped of their power! So offensive to have the cross at the centre as the weapon used against others.

The battle brought together four kings who despite their differences aligned, volunteers also from France, and three orders of religious knight orders, including the Knights Templars and the Order or Santiago (the ‘Moor killer’). It is probably no great surprise that we discovered when travelling to Toledo that the returning forces then turned on and massacred many Jews in the city.

When one talks about repentance over what has been done to Jews in the name of Jesus there is often a glad response – even from those who do not grasp ‘Identificational repentance’. Bringing up the issue of repentance to Muslims and touching on that history does not bring about the same glad response, in fact it is sadly often met with resistance. The privilege to stand in these places and feel something of the heart of God to embrace one and all is huge. It is then an offence when so much of what is on the land today betrays the God of heaven. For that repentance is both necessary and an easy step to make. It is not simply that Muslims have a long memory – the land does, and it needs healing so that another story can be written rather than one that changes characters but the script stays the same.

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Sierra de la Espada

It can be challenging tracking down where certain events took place and also the driving can be challenging too, but the views in the mountains – the only challenge there is to keep one’s eyes on the road while taking in the view!

One of the clues as to the position of the massacre is a ridge called the Barranco de los Muertos. In typical fashion the Muslims had grouped together to avoid slaughter, forced conversions or exile in the interior mountainous regions. The initial unsuccessful attempt was from Segorbe in the South but the forces were repelled. Then an army was assembled from the north at Onda and advanced on Alcudia de Veo and then beyond. This was a European army, with the backing of king and pope and viewed as a crusade. ‘All eyes in Europe’ were on this crusade and when eventually they were brutally vanquished it was proclaimed that finally all European territory was free of Muslims.

sierra de la espada

With a bottle of wine in hand Gayle and I drove as close to the area of the final bloodshed and found a place to pull off the road. Pouring wine on the ground (blood speaks, but the blood of Jesus speaks louder and calls for reconciliation now and eschatologically) we spoke forgiveness to the region.

Years ago I would have wanted to be able to defend such actions and prove that they make a vital difference. Now I hope I am less defensive and simply accept that they do. If the giving of a cup of cold water can seemingly make a record that is assessed in the age to come then I think pouring out wine symbolically probably does so too.

PS to Xativa / Alcala

After we visited Xativa and the day before we visited Alcala our friend Noe had a visit to his house at 10.00pm. It was a mechanic that he has both used to service his car and has befriended. The mechanic was coming on behalf of the Iman from the local mosque, asking if Noe would take part in a TV program from Moroccan TV on the relationship of Muslims and Christians in Spain! Noe was unable to take part, but the main pastor of the church took his place. The venue chosen was the church building and the backdrop the director wanted was the dove on the wall with the ‘Come Holy Spirit’ enscribed on it. Fernando was able to be both clear and reconciliatory, with one of the key people asking for him to pray for him after the recording.

Would that have happened if we had not gone to Xativa or pursued what God has put in our path? Was it a coincidence? Thankfully we will never be able to prove it one way or another. But it is so sweet when such coincidences happen after prayer – and they do seem to happen quite regularly. So here is to sweet regular coincidences!!”,”post_title”: “,”post_category”: 0,”post_excerpt”: “It can be challenging tracking down where certain events took place and also the driving can be challenging too, but the views in the mountains – the only challenge there is to keep one’s eyes on the road while taking in the view!

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Alcala de la Jovada

Thanks to google here is a satellite view of where we went a few days ago. About an hour’s drive and the birth place of Al Azraq and the place where the treaty was made that came to an end and Xativa (last post) was attacked and captured by Jaime I. Beautiful drive up to just over 2,100ft elevation, but to think of making this kind of journey pre-tarmac roads and cars!! Not for me, in spite of the views!!

Alcala de la Jovada

There were Muslims of north African and Arabic background, but there were also Muslims who were living in the land prior to the invasion and who converted. By the time of Jaime (13th Century) and certainly by the time of the Expulsions (early 17th century) those being attacked were being attacked by other citizens in the land. It can only be described as a civil war. The Muslims were also, by the main, the stewards of the land, their care and work is amazing. Drive today and you can see the wonderful terraces for irrigation from the Moorish era. We understand that there are more stones involved in the terracing in Spain than in the Great Wall of China!! Plants and vegetables were introduced and grown – would we have huge paddy fields for rice (paella) across the Valencia comunidad had it not been for the Muslim influence?

We understand then that there was a strong element of civil war and of sin against the land in driving off the stewards from the land (as well as economically not very clever!!).

When we went to Xativa Gayle had an image of a specific Muslim leader, who she described to Noe. Immediately he responded with that is ‘Al Azraq’. Born in Alcala, to a mixed Christian / Muslim marriage. He and Jaime had a relationship that genuinely seemed to have respect for each other, hence the treaty. In all of this it would be naïve to suggest one party was good and the other bad – and think of Solzhenitsyn’s wisdom of the good / evil line never running between us but through each of us – but the breaking of the treaty does seem to be what is triggering the response in the Dayesh video. We consider Al Azraq a man of peace, and (now you can choose to stop reading!!) that in some way he was ready to receive an apology from us, and to release the land.

In these situations it is so hard to describe what goes on, and much harder to put a theological spin on it. What really happens? Who / what is being addressed? I draw a blank on it all. If we accept that the resurrection creates a time-warp (an ‘end’ event taking place somewhere between the beginning and the end, hence even graves in Jerusalem being emptied before their time!!) and that the land holds the record of what has taken place, it is not surprising that there are strange events that take place.

In Alcala we came to the statue and prayed. Gayle even gave the statute a kiss of peace on the cheek to acknowledge that our apology had been received. She said it was as real as kissing anyone on the cheek.

A meeting – many years after the event, but not too late!!!

Alcala Team

Off home – the views are not bad!! A couple of days later Gayle and I drove north to another site… the content of the next post. Talk to you soon!!

Alcala Home

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