Chago had helped the older woman on the last part of their route. He felt better after having prayed to Santiago de la Vega. Yes, this was not exactly the way of Santiago he had walked almost ten years ago, but it was equally uplifting spiritually. And his fellow pilgrim, Concha, was a pleasant company that God had sent him to save and protect. Well, if he thought better, it wasnt so clear, between them two, who was protecting whom as both benefitted of this fateful encounter.
He had expected the crowd, the commotion, the deafening noise, as he had Santiago de Compostela and Maracaibo as comparisons. He washed his hands and face in the holy water spring, sprinkling on his head too, to keep away bad thoughts (and bad luck too, if he could), praying meanwhile to San Lazaro for healing his soul and forgiveness of his sins. He kneeled in front of the efigy of the saint, putting the offerings on the sheet. He was bringing the saint, according to Conchas advice, a big purple candle, a coconut, dry wine, spices and incense. He had tried to buy in the market of Santiago de la Vega the same spices he had offered once to Hermione, as he was praying for the rest of her soul as well.
For the statue inside the church, he had gold and silver coins and seventeen candles. He kneeled in front of the saint, praying fervently, after having arrived with difficulty there:
San Lazaro, friend of Jesus, brother and protector of the suffering, who knew the pains of illness and Christ's visit gave you back your life in Betania, please receive friendly our prayers in this hour of distress. Pray our Eternal Father to give us serene and sure confidence in Jesuss power. San Lazaro performing miracles, please mediate for us with God so that we receive an answer to our prayers," he recited as he had learnt in the days prior to the pilgrimage and on the road.
He had read all the prayers for San Lazaro, according to the custom, since nine days before. Saints loved novenas. This was merely the culmination of the prayers, in front of the saint, telling him all the trouble of his heart.
San Lazaro, I am praying for the rest of the soul of Hermione, dead violently and without a candle, nor a known tomb, may God give her the needed forgiveness. Also, Gods servant Juan Santiago is praying for good health, prosperity, and for learning which is the path he must take for honouring You. San Lazaro, help me heal my soul. Help me learn what I have to do for it, because I dont know yet, and I want to learn it, in order to do Gods will. If possible, I would like not to be alone my whole life, he added humblely, with a big sign of the cross.
When trying to return to the door, he had to protect Concha too, as people were scrambling around. More and more worshipers packed into the church, and suddenly, somewhere to his left, a fistfight broke out in the crowd, which a priest tried to break off, calling God in his help and the punishments of Hell for the unruly. Chago pushed Concha out, without paying attention if the unlucky priest got a flying fist or not, by mistake, before being recognized as Gods messenger.
Finally, the midnight mass started, and he listened with attention, participating as required, with all his soul and devotion.
He followed the procession in the streets, thinking it was no different than what he had done a month ago for La Chinita. Upon Conchas silent request, even if he didnt play his guitar like one month ago, he imitated the other dancers. There were more unusual moves for him. He hadnt seen many holidays in Cuba, and he hadnt taken part in any local dances, not of the kind directly imported from Spain. But the rhythm was mesmerizing, and the dancers put all their energy into this specific way of devoting to a saint. It wasnt difficult, once getting into it, to follow the moves and clear his mind of anything else than the prayers.
It was a different experience than the Way of Santiago, but equally empowering spiritually.
Last edited by Santiago Moreno
on 12:08 PM - Jun 23, 2014, edited 1 time in total.