Every year I put up a photo of this corner during the Easter period. It doesn’t look like this during the rest of the year.
Easter week is normally a week off work, a time to stay at home, potter about and enjoy the beautifully mild, sunny, clear blue days while everyone else goes off somewhere on holiday and I normally take my dog out for leisurely walks around the village, just enjoying the sense of spaciousness and freedom there is when there’s nowhere to go and nothing to do.
But this year I’ve continued to work through the beginning of the week and today I attended the second day of an urban mindfulness retreat nearby and so that alone makes this Good Friday an out of the ordinary experience, even though I haven’t travelled anywhere and I was still able to take my dog out for a leisurely walk when I came back home.
Today’s topic at the retreat was “the illusory nature of reality”, and the tales and stories our mind spins as if they were the absolute truth, and how we get hooked and don’t even question our own beliefs. We’ve all experienced those times when reality slaps us in the face, either because we thought we saw a snake when it was just a piece of rope, or the other way round.
When I got home, Sashi and I went out for a spin and came across the first station (above). It’s so lovely the way whoever it is puts this corner together. There’s the street, there’s the tablecloth, the lit candle, potted plants, purple and white motif. I don’t know, it’s just there and it’s odd and beautiful, so I take the picture.
We keep walking our daily route and come across a few other stations:
And then the most unexpected and extraordinary thing: we come across a silent procession.
I say extraordinary because here in Mexico City, there’s no such thing as silence. During our retreat earlier in the day, we were able to quiet our bodies and minds through peaceful, concentrated walking and sitting meditation, but there was noise all around. Cars and trucks driving by on the periférico, occasional police and ambulance sirens, distant fireworks.
And processions in particular are thunderous affairs here, even funerals, with a designated fireworks launcher at the head, setting off earsplitting rockets from a bag on their hip at random intervals as they proceed.
But today’s procession was completely silent. And given that I’d practised walking meditation earlier in the day, it was easy and natural to just join in and experience the solemnity of it. Quite moving, actually.
It felt good to blend in, even if it was serendipitous that it should have been taking place as I was strolling with the dog, even if I have a different understanding of what was going on from the others taking part. But then I asked myself, “Does it matter?” and I quickly came to the conclusion that it doesn’t. We all spin tales and stories in our minds. What matters is what’s happening in the present moment. And in that moment what mattered was to walk along in peace with my neighbours, aware of the solemn single drum beat up ahead every 10 or 15 steps, enjoying the sense of community, the fresh air and feeling of belonging on this rare occasion of reverent quietude and silence.