The Church’s head honcho in residence passes the bend in the road where Graham and I stand vigil, discrete in our candid documenting of tonight’s surprise show, me with camera held tight against my chest as I snap blurry pic after blurry pic. We know he must be the bishop or cardinal or whatnot–I claim total ignorance in this realm–because his hair is white and his body crumples like a man who carries the weight of the world and the responsibility bestowed upon him by the dominant religious institution.
And, because his brethren two-step alongside him holding a white canopy overhead, faces a display of reverence and duty.
Behind the priest or pastor or whatever you call him shuffles a man who looks even more ancient by comparison, body shriveled, mobility compromised with age.
His appearance both shocks and marvels, for decked out in a white robe and sacred scarf, he sports brand spanking new, what else–
That’s right–preacher dude is actually totally hip, latest neon green sportswear carrying him to revere in the pinnacle moment, the passion relived, and this man does it in style.
We are at 7,000 feet and everyone’s high on Jesus Christ, this evening’s procession akin to Mardi Gras in New Orleans as each school, each church, parades down the main drag and towards the cathedral with their Jesus or Mary float in tow, Christ’s soldiers, stone-faced, solemn Jesuit ladies, devout swaying to sing-song proclamations of divine love.
The passion plays over and over again, JC suffering on the cross, the sight of which moves some to tears, others to compare one parish’s rendition to another’s, red-light Jesus followed by Mother Mary adorned in splendid towers of lilies. Everyone holds a candle, paper cirque to capture river of wax, and their faces show serene concentration as they partake in tonight’s meditation.
For, silly us, how could we forget, tomorrow is Spy Wednesday, the day some people believe Jesus to be actually crucified, hence this procession and hence our shock because the only Holy Wednesday I know of is Ash Wednesday, and that is Mardi Gras’ bed buddy, almost a whole 40 days gone by already.
So, now, here we are completely consumed, arguably blasphemous, and wholly entertained by the spectacle and the significance, holding this ceremony and bestowing it with as much reverence and respect and awe and curiosity we would upon any other, for really, we may know the actors’ names, but neither Graham nor I know much of the back story other than an Inquisition here, massacre there, Crusade in between.
The processions signals the end, the last Jesus winding its way up the boulevard to the cathedral, and behind us, we almost stumble over a vendor selling candied apples.
Clearly, opportunities abound everywhere.