Virgen de los Dolores (Virgin of Sorrows)

Sorrow breaks seasons and reposing hours.
Makes the night morning, and the noontide night.

Shakespeare, Richard III

dolores aldeaFriday in San Miguel was devoted to Mary, the Virgin of Sorrows. The Friday before Good Friday is also known as the Day of Altars as it is a day when homes, businesses, and public places are decorated with altars honoring Mary. Early in the morning (unusual for me to be out before 9) I walked past the Juan de Dios church where many events were taking place at the school, including choreographed dancing to contemporary music by the elementary school students who were wearing masks. I couldn’t see well as I was outside the grounds and had to peek between dense branches of shrubs.  The nearby streets were lined with many more vendors than usual and, coinciding with the jacarandas in blossom, purple and lavender flowers were on sale everywhere.  Small containers of yellow and green wheat seedlings were also for sale at almost every vendor. Bitter oranges were stacked or lined in many stalls.

The oranges symbolize the Virgin’s sufferings, gold foil symbolizes the highest purity, and the sprouting wheat symbolizes resurrection and the renewal of life.

I spent the morning first at the Biblioteca where I picked up an Atención (the weekly bilingual newspaper), then at the Jardin where I peoplewatched, took a few photos, listened to the bells, and chatted with BC (a neighbor) who is headed to Laredo to get a new tourist visa., It was at the Jardin that I overheard J talk to a friend of hers. Her conversation started with the tale of her visit to the doctor that morning and ended with the story of the death of her friend in Texas at the hands of the friend’s husband. Via a handgun. They had guns a-plenty in their home, but none of them prevented her death.

On the way home I found punch being served at three altars on calle Carolina.

Saturday morning I unexpectedly had breakfast with a friend from the UU Fellowship after not being able to find the women’s group from the UU at another restaurant. We had a long leisurely breakfast and he told me that el centro had been full of people Friday night visiting altars that were setup in homes all over town, with some homes offering ice cream to visitors. There was no such activity on calle Los Chupiros.

Henryk Gorecki, Symphony No. 3, Op. 36 (Symphony of Sorrowful Songs)

A symphony of mothers who have lost their children and children who have lost their mothers.

  • First movement:  15th-century Polish lament of Mary, mother of Jesus
  • Second movement:  World War II message written on the wall of a Gestapo cell
  • Third movement:  Folk song of a mother searching for her son killed in the Silesian uprisings
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