We had little time this week to witness the many offerings of Holy Week, but we did manage to go to the procession on the evening of Good Friday in Tavira. It began around nine. We waited patiently with many others until a sermon was broadcast over a loudspeaker, then the streetlights went out and the candlelit procession arrived. One of the most charming moments was the priest himself, in his purple sash, who’d clearly been told a very good joke and was having trouble displaying the necessary degree of solemnity. Because of the eeriness of the event, and not because of the laughing priest, Husband said he felt like he was in a Fellini film. I felt differently. I like a bit of religion. I grew up under benign Catholicism. This meant three things: for big worries, the good Lord would take care of them; for little worries, one had one’s very own guardian angel to take care of them; and for oneself the main requirement was to be ‘good’, which could be achieved through careful examination of one’s own conscience. But the thought did drop unbidden into my mind, standing here in the crowd in Tavira, that it would be rather better if this procession was all about praising the vastly intelligent natural system of which we humans are just a part, rather than a god we invented for ourselves and in our own image. And that if we humans hadn’t somehow decided that the Earth was all about us, and for our benefit, we perhaps wouldn’t be making such a mess of it, extracting every last, non-renewable, one-time-only resource from it and allowing a tiny few to get rich in the process. (Writer Arundhati Roy calls this resource extraction ‘a dream come true for businessmen – to be able to sell what they don’t have to buy.’)
And I realised my transition into a tree-hugging hippie was almost complete.
Letters to the president
I kept my promise to myself to participate in the Tavira Câmara’s ten-year policy review. I used the participation forms and followed the instructions to deliver comments in a three-part format: Framework, Consequences and Proposal. I shared with the president (aka the mayor) my thoughts on organic agriculture, the market hall in Tavira, tourism, oil/gas extraction, plastic greenhouses, and plastic waste. I did all this in very bad Portuguese, like an earnest but dull schoolgirl. I’m glad I bothered to take part, but I don’t think I’ve changed the world.