Encountering the Encounter
Last year I had the opportunity to participate in the Good Friday procession where Jesus sees his mother on the way to the Crucifixion, called The Encounter. I was like a kid in a candy store giddy with excitement to have the chance to see ancient art up close and a procession.
This year when the opportunity came my way again I knew I had to be more serious this year and treat it as spiritual experience. Results were, well, mixed.
Having performed at countless processions and fiestas as a dancer I know all the important decisions get made in the last moments. The year before I carried the Lord of the Column so I head his direction only to realize there were sufficient lads to carry him.
I was led to my favorite gal in the Easter story, St. Veronica, of veil fame that I had helped dress the day before in her finery. However, even I knew that wasn’t going to work since in their heels I still towered above the ladies carrying her which would cause Veronica to tumble on the cobblestones. Plus we all know Mary Magdalene is the fallen women in this procession, not Veronica.
Finally I was assigned lamp duty behind the 3 piece tableau of Jesus with the cross, two other lads and some angels. This is the image that bows his head upon viewing his mother, Mary.
Lamp duty rocks! Lamps aren’t that heavy and you can rest the pole on the ground at times. Plus all I had to do was stay behind Jesus, even a non-actor like myself can follow those stage directions. In gave me plenty of time to consider the Easter story while the children’s choir droned on behind me.
Turns out it wasn’t much time as one of the lads was having difficulties and I was called in to take his place carrying Jesus almost immediately. Unbeknownst to me I was an understudy now being called to center stage.
Cripes, I thought the Lord of the Column had enjoyed the Last Supper being an all you can eat buffet. He is downright feather light compared to Jesus with the cross and those pudgy cherubs!
Several times I didn’t think I would make it to the next rest stop despite being a strong man. In my defense a decade ago I broke my arm and wrist ATVing out by the Presa with my then teens and spent 13 months in cast having bionics applied to my arm. To this day I’m terrified of popping out a screw so I’m adept at favoring my right arm which worked well in this situation.
At one point I seriously considered taking a lighter to the sculpture if I could be granted immunity to going to jail and/or hell for doing so. It was then I knew I lost track of my spiritual goals and tried to focus on the crowds instead the lad in front of me’s back sweat.
Yes, most the crowd was camera bearing tourists but not all. Several folks stalked Jesus’ image in a devotional haze while other simply burst into tears when Jesus passed them by. Oddly, this made me feel good realizing I played some small part in helping another understand there is more to Easter than bunnies carrying eggs.
Finally Jesus encountered his Mom and while she passed breezily into the Parroquia we lifted her Jenny Craig resistant son into the church next door. It was here I was willing to sacrifice my left arm (the bionic one) to not having to carry him up another set of steps, but we did.
Then the raid of the flowers occurred and I was able to form two bouquets for the ladies that allowed me to help dress St. Veronica for her big day in the sun. Speaking of sun, by then I had more sun on me in one day than I do in a year and crept back to my coffin/bed to give my pasty Gaelic vampire skin some shade!