Sunday, May 5, 2013

Spain Entry #3 Toledo

Today we took our first train ride on a Renfe train to the religious capital of Spain. Toledo is a beautiful medieval town that has more churches than we could count or take pictures of. It is a town that has hosted Muslims, Jews, and Christians throughout its history and is more than picturesque.

Emy and I took advantage of the gorgeous weather and walked all over Toledo today. We took a train ride around the outskirts of the town, checked out the Sefardic Jewish Museum/Sinagoga de Tránsito. I got quite the lesson in Judaism from my cousin. It was fantastic. I really liked hearing all about the different customs and ideas behind the artifacts that we were looking at. I think the tombs were really neat. They used limestone and carved prayers into them.

We took a train car ride around the city and took a lot of pictures. Emy has this cool app on her phone that allows her to take a bunch of photos and it puts them together to make a panoramic shot. Photos will be up soon.

We checked out the main Cathedral and it was enormous. There were various chapels and in the middle it looked like it was sectioned off into different chapels as well. We didn´t have a guide nor do we know if this is true but we think that it might have ended up that way because different catholic groups may have added their sections during different points in history. It would make sense because this town is definitely a religious epicenter for all three religions.

The synagogue Santa Maria la Blanca was constructed in the early 13th century and it was converted to a convent in the 15th century. I really enjoyed the synagogue because there were nuns inside who were very helpful with information and books promoting good will and connection to the Jews from the Catholic church. She was very nice and she pointed out where there was a 6-sided star in the arches and an 8-sided star. The 8-sided star is an Islamic symbol. It looked very much like the sun tattoo I have on my ankle but it lacked a circle in the middle. I wonder how many religions in the world have stars as important symbols. There is star involved in the symbols for Islam (crescent and the star and the 8-sided star as I learned today), Christianity (the cross) and Judaism (the star of David). The star that I have on my ankle represents the sun which is a symbol the sun god Inti for the quechua people of Ecuador.

It was a very religion filled day and I enjoyed it very much. I like learning more about all religions and seeing how they all connect. I think it is super cool that Toledo has been host to the three major religions in the world. There has got to be something quite powerful about this place. One thing I know for sure is that it is surrounded by absolutely beautiful scenery and the River Tajo.

Emy and I are exhausted and are currently waiting for it to be 8pm so we can go eat dinner. They don´t serve dinner here until after 8pm. It is only tapas and drinks. We have had a lot of tapas in the past day (sandwich type plates that typically have fish, cheese, meat, or a mixture of that all served on bread with olive oil). They are delicious but we are craving a legitimate meal. We are struggling a bit with the late dinner schedule they keep in Spain but when it Rome...

Hasta mañana!

1 comment:

  1. As you look at all the wonders of religious history, think of the religions as ways of life that beckon to you, as they do to everyone. The magnificence, the mysterious, the awesome. It all tends to make one feel somewhat small and insignificant. Religions offer answers, comfort, belonging, identity, power but there is something to keep in mind in the face of all the allure. Human beings are a product of unimaginable lengths of time...time beyond our ability to comprehend...not just tens of thousands of years (far longer than any religion has existed) but hundreds of millions and billions of years in the face of which any religion is a speck.

    You as a human being are the result of these billions of years of evolution - you are the magnificent product of a process that literally goes back to the dawn of time. You are the result of countless acts of trial and error that have resulted in the body and senses you possess. You are the best answer to the earthly environment that eons of time have come up with but you only have 100 years or so to enjoy yourself, to experience and live with this incredible gift of your body.

    Time gives you yourself, but it doesn't give you answers. It has given you great capability - your brain - but no instruction manual. It leaves you standing alone to make what you can of the world around you. It won't comfort you, it won't tell you how to live, it certainly does not offer you eternal life.

    But keep in mind that no rabbi, no saint, no Jesus, no Mohammed has had any advantage over you in this - you are the equal of any of them in facing existence. Their opinions are no more valuable than your own in regard to existential questions, questions that cannot be and never will be definitively answered.

    There is no comparison between you, a human being, and all the collected grand works of religion. You and I and every individual living person put all such works deeply into the shade.

    Realize your position - master of your life but at the same time anxious, uncertain, tremulous in the face of the immensity of the universe. This goes with the territory and can't be avoided.

    Take on the challenge gladly, put all religions aside and take up what is necessary for a full and wonderful life without any of them - courage in the acceptance of mortality; facing the facts of life - that you will die and be no more but that in the meantime all experience is open to you. Your mind is the jewel of your existence so open it wide, but be skeptical, using it for the reasoning it allows you. You can't know everything and nobody ever will, but you can protect yourself against mythology, which is the basis of religion. Enjoy the wonders that the Spanish religious sites provide but keep them in their proper place as insignificant in relation to you yourself, suitable for the ancients who lived in fear and without the knowledge of reality that reason has gained for us. Enjoy the hush of the cathedral but be eager to step outside to the world that you are fully equipped to live in with the courage you must make up your mind to use.