I don’t know much about it at all, except that the groups will carry large images or statues of Jesus and The Virgin through the town. Some of the penitents will be in hooded garb, and there will be a lot of candle wax.
I plan to do some reading before I actually attend. I want the kids to see it, of course. It’s culturally significant, and any reminder that Easter is about more than Marshmallow Peeps is aces in my book.
I want to talk about despair and hope. I want to explain that sometimes we make mistakes, and it hurts. We want to hide, or disappear, but instead we show up. We humble ourselves and hold up beauty and truth. We join the people.
I want to tell the kids that we all walk as penitents. Every day, we do harm. Just this week alone, I didn’t follow through with plans. I spent too much time in my head, and not enough time using my hands. I got frustrated with my kid, and ate jellybeans for dinner.
I cursed the rain, and forgot to bask in the sun. I called the dog “stupid.” I got on Facebook and lost more brain cells.
I forgot that God is so much bigger than all that nibbles at me.
I haven’t found a church that speaks to me. I forget to pray or talk to my children about faith. I get frustrated when I feel like religion has shut me out.
Here I sit, on the holiest week of the year, not sure of much. Except that for the people in those processionals, with the hoods and the wax and the music are there. They exist. They may or may not know why they are walking, but they shoulder their burdens nevertheless.
And thus, I too, will stand with them. I will smell the candle wax, and I will, for at least a moment, surrender.