Monday, September 9, 2013

The Spiritual Spoils: The Face of Madrid

The poet Mary Oliver's first Instruction for Living a Life is "pay attention."  Every so often...I do.

Out of the corner of my eye, I overheard one teacher extend her sympathies to another. Sansei, our beloved Japanese teacher from outside of Tokyo, was discussing the 2020 Olympics with Carlos a Spanish teacher from Madrid.  Both teachers were aware of all that their respective motherlands had lost / gained.  I don't think I could have scripted this scene had I tried. 

As Carlos mentioned the high unemployment rate in Spain and how the Olympic games would have served as a moral and economic boost for their struggling economy, another colleague lifted his iPad to show me his lesson plan. In "El Deportes" section of "El Pais" Alvaro Garcia captured the same sentiment that Carlos was wearing thousands of miles from his home town.
"Madrid, Spain’s capital and largest city, now faces a new challenge, as it scrambles to reduce $9.2 billion in debt as it figures out what to do with some of its half-built or underused sports centers" (New York Times)
Indeed, spoils go to the victor! We sports fans love the glory, but with every win comes a loss. And as I looked at each photograph, I saw something much more than a group of disappointed Madrileos. The images created a photo-essay that speaks to theologian Ron Rolheiser's definition of spirituality.  

Spirituality does however admit of different moods and faces. Sometimes it hits us as pain-dissatisfaction, frustration, and aching. At other times its grip is not felt as painful at all, but as a deep energy, as something beautiful, as an inexorable pull, more important than anything else inside us, toward love, beauty, creativity, and a future beyond our limited present. Desire can show itself as aching pain or delicious hope.
Spirituality is, ultimately, about what we do with that desire. What we do with our longings, both in terms of handling the pain and the hope they bring us, that is our spirituality.

I have used his words before, but they go to show that one need not understand the text beneath each photo to recognize the hope they held (Madrid has lost the bid twice before) and the pain of the verdict (80% of the facilities have already been constructed).  What Madrid and its people do with that desire—that is their spirituality.  That is the story that is waiting to be told.  
For whatever reason, to me, this one says the most... 
My co-worker Ray thanked me for building a cross-curricular connection; I thank him for showing me another provocative, honest, colorful yet triste face of spirituality. Here's to 2024? And Rafa's second US Open win.  Vamos!

Photo Credits
all from El Pais

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