In this episode I’m back from my travels in Spain and share some stories from my trip. When I travel I focus on learning how other cultures have experienced loss and grief throughout history in order to form a deeper connection with all people everywhere. Grief is the great connector of humankind as a universal experience.
(Photo: Tomb of Christopher Columbus in the Cathedral of Sevilla. For more photos go to my Instagram page.
There will be a webinar with Jane Barton on developing resilience in later life titled “Bridge Time: Dealing with the Consequences of Change” on Tuesday October 30th.
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Here are some highlights of my travels in Spain:
- In Madrid I learned about the terrorist attacks on commuter trains coming into Atocha Station that took place on 3/11/2004, which reminded me of 9/11 in the U.S. I understood the grief, panic and horror that struck all of Spain that day as they experienced the overwhelming shock of such an attack on their own soil.
- I saw Picasso’s painting “Guernica” at the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid and learned about the tragic bombing of the Basque town of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War in 1937. The painting is massive and very moving to behold in real life as it portrays the anguish of that awful day.
- Through travels in Toledo and the region of Andalusia I learned about the convivencia, a period of relative tolerance between Muslims, Jews and Christians who lived as neighbors during the 700-year Muslim rule. They shared literature, poetry, architecture, design, agricultural and irrigation methods, and advances in science, astrology and medicine during the Dark Ages when the rest of Europe was in a time of regression.
- I visited La Mezquita in Cordoba, once the largest mosque in the world in the middle of which a huge cathedral was built after Catholics reclaimed the city from Muslim rule. The mosque is extraordinarily beautiful inside and much of the architecture was preserved and incorporated into the cathedral. The red and white arches of the mosque can be seen in the header of this post.
- In Granada we visited the Alhambra, a gorgeous palace and walled city from the Nasrid dynasty that was surrendered to the Catholic monarchs of Spain, Ferdinand and Isabella, in 1492 to finally end all Muslim rule in the country. The beauty of the palace has been preserved as an example of Moorish architecture that is also seen in many Jewish and Christian buildings from that time.
- Finally we saw many monuments to Christopher Columbus throughout Spain and were there to witness the celebration of Columbus Day on October 12th, which is now being called Indigenous People’s Day in many places here in the U.S. It was fascinating to view Columbus’ exploration through the eyes of the “colonizing country” and compare it to the experience of the “colonized” in this country. Columbus died in poverty and disgrace after never finding the passage to India he was seeking, not knowing the legacy he was leaving behind (which is now tarnished from our perspective in the U.S.)
In conclusion, travel is a fascinating way to connect with people of different culture, ethnicity, race, and religion and has the power to bring us back to a place of convivencia, where we can live together in tolerance, even though we have different views. We share our humanity, our mortality and our grief as one people living on one planet.
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Until next time …