Good Friday in Santa Rosa de Copan, Honduras, features an unbelievable demonstration that involves an astounding amount of sawdust, a huge, wooden, hand-carried bier, a small but vigorous marching band, and an approximately three-hour procession to travel about 16 blocks.
A faithful crew of artistic townsfolk rise with the sun and create a beautiful and elaborate carpet on the cobblestone streets made entirely of sawdust. The carpet lays the path for the procession through the 14 stations of the cross.
The sawdust carpet begins just outside the Catholic Church on the town square.
The procession is led by the senior priest who is followed by an enormous wooden bier which is carried by 16 or so men. Upon the bier is a figure of Jesus carrying the cross.
At each station of the cross, the story of that station is read along with a prayer in which all of the people join. There are even actors in costume portraying the scene as it is read in some of the stations and sometimes a choir singing as well.
The procession slowly moves from one station to the next with a great dignity and reverence for what is taking place. As they pass along on the sawdust carpet, the art is, of course, destroyed underfoot. There are folks who follow behind the procession and sweep up the mess.
I have almost no skills in Spanish, but I was able to see the progression through the stations and, with a little research, was informed enough to appreciate the deliberate slowness with which they considered the various steps of Christ’s path from Pilate’s judgment hall to the garden tomb.
I will confess that, given the heat of the day and my inability to understand most of what was spoken, we walked the path ahead of the procession and left before it was completed.
I spent several moments throughout the rest of the day reflecting on the whole experience. The more I considered this spectacle, the more convicted I became. You see, I, like so many followers of Jesus today, tend to read through the account of Jesus’ crucifixion narrative and pause and thank Him and go on about my way.
I learned a lesson from these kind people this Good Friday. I learned that I sometimes fast forward through things that ought to be done slowly, deliberately, and with significant gravity. I realized that I have so often been guilty of rushing on to the wonder of the resurrection without really looking at the hideous beauty of the crucifixion.
I see that, for me and many (if not most) of the people I serve and lead, this kind of thing is just…
God help us.