It has taken me more than 10 days to write about this. Why? Because it’s difficult to know what to say.
Our teacher first told us about the procession. She said that their would be cucurucho (purple robes that look just like the white KKK robes). The cucuruchos would then walk through the street barefoot as penance for their sins.
From this I expected that there would be maybe 15-20 cucuruchos. I did not expect so see 1,500 – 2,000 men dressed in cucurucho robes, nearly all of the barefoot.
Some of the carried wooden crosses.
Some of them wrapped themselves in barbed wire.
Some strapped cacti to their backs.
Some of them whipped themselves with stinging nettles and/or knotted rope.
This year, Good Friday was over 30 degrees Celcius (it was around 85 F). The streets these men were walking on had to blister their bare feet.
All of this for forgiveness? Isn’t part of the premise of Christianity that Christ died for our sins? We just need to ask for forgiveness?
“O Lord, you are so good and kind, so ready to forgive; so full of mercy for all who ask your aid.” –Psalm 86:5.
I don’t remember the Bible saying “walk over 5 miles, barefoot, burning, and whipping yourself first, then I will forgive you.”
The saddest thing about the Good Friday Process I witnessed in Quito, was that little children were participating as well.
I couldn’t help but wonder if they actually wanted to participate, or if it was possibly being used as a punishment of some sort.
(I saw one boy about 12-14 who wore a sign around his neck that said “Ladron” (thief) and was carrying a cross barefoot.) Was he being punished for stealing? Or was he just acting the part of one of the thieves next to Jesus on the mount?
There was another small boy who was whipping a man carrying a cross.
It wasn’t just men and boys who participated, but women as well. They dressed in veils, but many were still barefoot.
Upon the return of the cucuruchos many of them had found cardboard or plastic bags to tie on to their burning, blistering, and bleeding feet.
The Good Friday Procession was as much a celebration as it was an atonement. Bands participated; Saint John, Jesus, and Mary were paraded as well.
We even threw rose petals and made a wish as Jesus passed.
Jonathan and I were invited to watch the procession from our friend’s, Juan Carlos, balcony. It was the perfect setting to view the procession. Thank you Juan Carlos and Pablo for the opportunity.
But, it also left us a little separated and distanced from it.
The sight was beautiful and painful.
Wouldn’t it just be easier to forgive yourself?