Just got back from a visit of three great cities in Europe. Madrid was the last stop of our travels. We were just in time for the holy week and the processions.
I was lucky enough to see the salida (exit) of the pasos (floats) from the churches. I was able to see the processions not because I went to the various towns, but because I was at the Raphael hotel next to the Piramedes and was lying on the bed watching television. Because we don't have cable, I try to catch up on television every time we travel. From what I have read, it is easier to see the exits throught he television than through actual participation.
In one memorable exit, the float was much, much larger than the doorway. In my mind, I shouted "That's crazy! The only way to get that thing out is for the men carrying the float to kneel!". And kneel they did. As a leader guided them with his voices, the men gradually assumed a lower and lower level of stance until they were kneeling and carrying the float. Then, as the shouter urged them on, the kneeling men would inch forward with each guiding shout. You could see the float move inch by inch.
One man's face was the face of Christ on the cross. He stood in the middle of the float supporting the middle carriage. He looked like Brad Garrett. With each inch of movement, the stress and the pain would show in his face. With each inch of movement, his exhalations could be felt through the television screen. As I sat watching the float move inch by inch, I rooted for this man to make it through. I understood that the brotherhood carrying the floats were suffering as much as Jesus suffered on the cross. Perhaps in this way, they ask for penance for themselves and the world.