Thoughts for Today
From the real world, sublime and challenging
Buenos Aires 2 – The reconciling power of flowers
Hope in the large and small…..
Our second day we saw the city of Buenos Aires in the build up before the morning rush hour. The joggers and cyclists were out, and the city commuters were striding purposefully in the gentle breeze of a sunny day. This fitted in with the meaning of Buenos Aires which is ‘fair winds’, (shortened from the City of the Most Holy Trinity and Port of St Mary of the Good Airs’ in 1580!). It is also known as ‘the Paris of the south’ with a population of 15 million (3 million in the city and 12 million in the suburbs).
The picture of the ‘Floralis Generica’ is in the Plaza Naciones Unidas and is 23 metres high made out of steel and aluminium. It was unveiled as a gift from the Argentinian architect, Eduardo Catalano, in 2002. The six petals open out at 8am every morning via solar energy and close the 6 tons of flower at sunset. The gift to the city as described by the architect, ‘It is a synthesis of all flowers and, at the same time, a hope reborn every day at opening.’ It is set in 4 acres of a woodland boundary and above a reflecting pool. It was a stunning sight and also moving to learn that the word floralis actually means ‘a person who has the potential to attain spiritual enlightenment’.
So on we travelled to the huge Recoleta Cemetery in the city to the eventual resting place of Evita Peron (Duartes). It was twenty years after her death in 1952 (at the age of 33 from cancer) that the Peronists brought her body back from Milan (where she had been during the 1955 revolution) to the city. For security reasons she was buried 5 metres down in the family tomb. A tragic story of the flower of Argentina, dividing many in their opinions of her. In the end reconciled and laid to rest back home.
We viewed the famous balcony of Evita fame, part of the ‘Pink House’ of the main square and Presidential Palace. We entered the great Metropolitan Cathedral. This is where Pope Francis (Jorge Mario Bergoglio) was Archbishop and Cardinal from 1997–2013 when he was elected Pope. We met one of his old Cathedral colleagues from that time, Fr Nicolas. Passing on blessings from the Anglican Church he said of Pope Francis ‘…he never smiled until he went to Rome.’ Fr, Nicolas put this down to the growing influence in all our lives of the Holy Spirit. We left him to hear confessions…
By coffee time we were in Caminito the artist quarter, meeting an official Diego Maradona ‘lookalike’ (seeing the hand of God) and experiencing the bright South American colours of the houses in the infamous area of Boca. The tango tune Caminito was composed there in this 300 yards of vibrancy.
We had the opportunity of tasting the national drink ‘Mate’ in the traditional way – the morning and afternoon drink – a very earthy green tea taste, certainly an acquired taste.
In this snapshot we saw the blooming of architecture, political life, vocation and the tango dance out of the most challenging of societies. The lockdown has given the opportunity to see the blooming of many things in adversity. It has given some time to reflect more deeply on the givenness of beauty out of adversity and deep personal losses including the agony of individuals, families, and communities.
It never ceases to surprise us when a plant, that hasn’t flowered for years then appears against the odds - ’A hope reborn each day in its opening’. May it be our ongoing experience in the coming Kingdom.
So, we travel on to the Falkland Islands after visiting Punta del Este in Uruguay….
Edward and Jane