We walk toward Ourense — following the Camino which leaves the industrial area and follows a rural route.
We walk past small farms and gardens.
We visit the Cathedral (dedicated to St. Martin of Tours).
St. Martin tore his cape in half and gave half to a poor man. Later, when he was a Bishop, he destroyed many pagan temples. Christians lived in the cities — people in the country-side still worshiped according to their ancient traditions but St. Martin could not tolerate that.
Inside, we observe the narthex (the entrance). It portrays saints, apostles, and figures (elders) from the book of Revelation.
[Revelation 4:4 — “Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads.”]
The book of Revelation mentions Elders — but it is unclear exactly who these rulers were — we might assume they were apostles and saints but Jesus did not advocate ruling. Christianity, during the medieval era, had characteristics that were parallel to the feudal kingdoms of the time.
We see figures playing musical instruments — a heavenly host.
The vision of St. Paul on the road to Damascus (he see Jesus– everyone else falls on the ground). Paul never met Jesus except during this vision.
On the Day of Judgement, some go to heaven, others to hell.
I see a rare image of St James (Santiago), seated and holding a book and sword — typically, he is shown standing (a pilgrim) or on a horse (a warrior). I approach the altar — where I take a seat.
I read Chapter 7 of the Tao te Ching, translated by Steven Mitchell:
“The Tao is infinite, eternal.”
[Lao tsu’s Tao is like God in some respects.]
We visit a side chapel.
I meditate. Catholic cathedrals present images designed to transmit certain traditional stories — particularly events in the life of Jesus.
There are graves on medieval bishops and we see a crucifix of Jesus, the king (with crown and tranquil face).
Lao tsu writes:
“Why is it eternal?
It was never born;
thus it can never die.”
[The Tao, as described by Lao tsu, is eternal, like God — but Christianity is filled with stories of human rulers — powerful and unequal — Lao tsu describes a humble “Master” who, like Jesus, is inwardly focused.]
It is possible to get close to the main altar. It portrays Biblical stories.
“Why is it infinite?
It has no desires for itself;
thus it is present for all beings.”
[Unlike the Jewish, Christian, Muslim concept of God, Lao tsu’s notion of the Tao lacks an ego. God, as portrayed in the sacred scriptures, wishes to be worshiped and wants his worshippers to believe certain stories described in the scriptures. Lao tsu’s Tao seems totally passive — not asking for anything]
In the museum, I look a relics of Mary Magdeline, the woman who was probably the lover of Jesus (she was the first one that he visited alter his death). Relics, such as these, were fabricated and sold during medieval times — but they resulted in many miracles.
We walk to the Plaza Mayor.
“The Master stays behind;
that is why she is ahead.”
[Lao tsu portrays an ideal person, the Master, who has Tao-like traits — a reduced ego. Jesus also advocates humility but his story was modified by the Apostle Paul, making him equilivant to God — he attains an elevated, exalted position by “staying behind” — but Lao tsu’s Master is not a king]
We walked to the Church of Santa Eufemia. We had wanted to see the Archiological Museum but we discovered that it was closed. Karen was disconcerted because it was raining — but we found the Church of Santa Eufemia. It was on the list of the best ten things to see in Ourense.
It is very dark inside. I approach the altar. We note that the altar looks like a slot machine — It you put a coin in it, would you get a chance to win the jackpot?
Religion has the characteristic of seeking “payment” from the believer and, in return, granting sporadic rewards.
The wise men bring presents.
Lao tsu describes something different — the Master does not seek. She is detached.
“She is detached from all things;
that is why she is one with them.”
There is a nativity seen in the rear of the church.
“Because she has let go of herself,
she is perfectly fulfilled.”
[She is master of herself — not master of others.]
While I meditate, a priest tells me that he is going to lock up the church — he says I can stay for ten more minutes. Karen returns and we decide to leave.
We enter the exit passage but it it absolutely dark. We cannot figure out how to get the door unbolted or unlatched or how to turn on a light to see clearly.
We walk around until we find an official who lets us out. He seems extremely irritated by this situation.
I have encountered this quirky situation in many of the churches I have entered in Spain. We seem to be intruding into an unwelcome environment. Most churches are locked (unused) and, if we are able to get in, the people inside don’t want us to be there. The church serves only a declining group of elderly participants. Young people tell us that they don’t believe.
There is a reality — a spiritual realm that exists beyond belief. This realm is available to those that seek it. Most are unaware and only those exposed to suffering feel the need to delve into this domain. The ancient scriptures are relics of the past — but also signposts.
There is no evidence that St. James (Santiago) visited Spain. The stories of him leading troops into battle against the Moors do not pertain to an actual battle.
Much of what is presented within religion is not based on fact… but there is something that continues throughout all time.
There is power within this cathedral derived from realms beyond our understanding.
Modern people can can find the signposts within.