We live in a society where we walk on egg shells when we speak about religion or politics. These two topics hold a passion which is found in every individual however some withhold their thoughts for the sake of being diplomatic or not to stir a debate. With that being said I find it fascinating that many of us on the pilgrimage are coming from strong spiritual backgrounds and we seem to be trying to find something bigger than ourselves. Anthropologist would define this as we are in a liminality phase basically a middle ground in between two phases’ childhood and adulthood. As I embark on this journey with my colleagues I see a sense of happiness and gratitude but as well as a sense of coming into one’s own in a very challenging world.
On our one of many daily adventures throughout Burgos, Spain we toured the Carthusian monastery of Miraflores that holds the tombs of the parents of Queen Isabella the Catholic. The layout of the church gives the visitor a sense they are on a pilgrimage, coming from the darkness into the light of Christ. Throughout our tour of the monastery we pass by saints, the Stations of the Cross, the Last Supper, and Mary and Jesus after the crucifixion. Even more than these images, it was the beautiful lighting that inspired this blog. The lighting symbolized what I have been experiencing on this camino. Breaking from the complete darkness was the image of Mary and her son, a symbol of hope that no matter how dark the world may be around you there is light to be found at the end of the tunnel.
One of the best parts of this study abroad so far has been seeing history in front of our eyes. We have read and learned so much and seeing it in person adds a whole different perspective. In particular it has been amazing to me to see the Islamic influence in northern Spain. So many of the Christian monasteries and cathedrals have had ceilings, arches, and artwork all influenced by Islamic art. To be able to read about the history of northern Spain and then see it in the small details such as the patterns on the walls of the monasteries has been incredible. I felt really moved in the same way when we read The Song of Roland in Roncesvalles and saw where El Cid was buried in the Cathedral in Burgos. It has been really amazing to see history in all of the places we have been to.
Today I had the incredible opportunity to visit the resting place of Ferdinand’s wife Isabelle’s parents. The intricate alabaster tomb was an awe inspiring example of devotion and power wielded by the former queen of Spain.The church Isabella built to hold the tomb has in it a clever play on light and artifacts that takes whoever enters on a small pilgrimage that ends in the room with her parents where you behold a stunning art piece depicting the Holy Trinity. Seeing all of the ways that pilgrimage has shaped the landscape of Spain has kept the purpose of this trip in the forefront of my mind and really made me think about the significance of what we’re doing.