Local village school, where children will return to at the start of next week.
Our prayer intention this month is for children and young people who are beginning school or college and also for those who will once again return after a long hot summer.
View from Espana
The children will not return to school in Spain until next week. This means that the community swimming pool will remain open in our village until Sunday the 9th September this year, which is a great benefit for
those who like to swim, as it is a lovely, long and wide pool, which is always full of warm water. In the evening, entire families congregate about the facility, where they play in the water and talk along the sides, and just simply enjoy themselves.
Ireland at this time of the year, we always seem to get a pet week or two, when our ‘unfortunate’ children are resuming their scholarly aspirations. I’m not sure if they pay so much attention to the good weather, being consumed with feelings
of having to knuckle down to hard graft, donning uniforms and being forced like messengers to ferry reminders to parents for school fees. All this after a glorious Summer. Here in Spain, September temperatures hit 30 degrees plus, fairly early in the day.
In addition, you could slice through the humidity with a fairly sharp knife. Picture the ninôs,and estudiantes then, as they slip into school at about eight in the morning, preparing to slowly melt under the glare of teachers and the searing sun outside,
and not always in air-conditioned classrooms. We don’t know how, but they do manage to ‘play’ outside, during breaks. Well, of course you say, they have been brought up, quite used to it. Perhaps! But the older Spanish people hide behind
thick-walled houses, pull down the shutters and put up the security grills during the day, against the relentless attack from El Sol.
We live here, about twenty minutes drive from the nearest beach. Quite literally, when we are finding it hard to breathe
out of doors, we take ourselves to our local resort, and spend some time under an umbrella, taking in the refreshing sea breeze, reading, relaxing and occasionally walking, along with hundreds, sometimes thousands of others. In the late afternoon, though,
the Spanish families desert the beach in droves, for lunches and siestas; and that is the best time for us extranjeros to find a spot near to the breaking waves. The familias return later, children, parents and grand-parents. They will stay until dark on these
balmy evenings, returning home to very late, long evening meals, all the time conversing, playing and generally enjoying each other’s company.
When we moved to our present casa, the depression that had hit Ireland’s economy, had also struck
Spain a massive blow. Many of the properties in our small community were left vacant for years. Some of the local children, mostly teenagers, took advantage and ‘hung-out’ on our neighbours’ doorsteps and terraces. At times, they did more
than hang out. Later, when people moved back in, and hideouts became scarce, a small but significant number availed of the benches in the small public park in front of the houses, to pursue nefarious deeds, especially at night. This year though, that particular
activity was very much absent. Perhaps a word in the right ear had the desired effect. There again, the elder senoras in the village might have increased their evening patrols. We have seen them many times, these distinguished stateswomen, walking four to
five abreast – one with a zimmerframe – completing five or six circuits of our little public park, or indeed any other area which might have needed the benefit of a community patrol.
There isn’t much anyone can do about the dawn concerts,
though. During August anyway, these usually start after mid-night, and the organisers declare in writing on the notice-board outside the town hall that they will end, only when the sun comes up! DJs provide some of the music but occasionally there are ‘live’
performances, and you probably haven’t experienced Spain until you hear an old T-Rex classic, belted out from a larynx like a lawn-mower, at five in the morning.
Sunday gone, not too long after the music had ended, we attended mass in our local
village. There were about forty of us in the small congregation, but not one child, or teenager was present. There are young people here, and in the next small town. Usually, you will see them, as in Ireland, during times of ceremonies for Baptism, Communion
and Confirmation. But they are particularly in evidence when the localities hold their many fiestas, during Easter and Christmas and patron Saint days. Then, young girls will be dressed like queens, in flowing dresses, white shawls and head-dresses. Sometimes,
the boys or young men will accompany them, in their Spanish-styled suits, slicked-back hair and white shirts. Either the girls by themselves, or paired with their young escorts, are representing their communities on these occasions. And if appearances are
anything to go by, these are very proud communities, and they take these pageants very seriously.
This is just a flavour of a child or a young person’s life in Spain. The weather, the way of life, even the fiestas don’t end when the chalk
screeches across the blackboards. Somewhere in there, the Catholic faith, the Church still has a role, an important role to play, and not just for the older Spanish people. But it may well be argued that it has had to become a part of the community, to remain
relevant? No longer can it be seen as the driving-force. In Spain the Ayuntamiento or local council/town hall, along with the Cofradias, are very much in authority. For now, they all work quite well together, but ominous signs of parents and children being
selective of the church’s services are evident too.
The important thing to remember is that Spain still values and cares for its children and extended families. You will be brought to a halt in our little village, always by a local policeman,
at school closing time, while the children stream across the road, to get to the other side. And in the evening, on your way to Mass perhaps, you will be diverted up different streets or calles, to facilitate large family-gatherings, too big for anything other
than the entire road to accommodate them. Schools and colleges will start back again next week; but Spanish family life will go on.
We pray for children and young people who will begin school or college for the first time,
may it be a safe and happy time for them.
We pray for parents as they let their little one's go from home for the first time, may God give them peace in their hearts at this new time.
We pray for students beginning and returning to college, may they not fall into the temptations that college life often puts before them.
We pray for teachers and lecturers, may God guide and direct them
as they impart their knowledge to students.