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THE MEANING OF SUFFERING

Updated: May 18, 2023

Here in Mexico, there are no Easter bunnies nor Easter egg hunts. Instead, we will remember the dramatic ending of one of the world's first social justice warriors, Jesus, a story that has lasted more than 3,500 years which will be re-enacted in one week called, "Semana Santa" or Holy Week.

Crucified Jesus statue is carried in the streets for La Procesion del Silencio
La Procesion del Silencio in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato Mexico. Photo by Isis Rodriguez

The archetypes in this event will be Jesus, his cross, his executioners, mourners and angels. We will witness the theatrical performance of the sentencing of Christ, his brutal torture, his funeral, and on Sunday, we will celebrate his resurrection.


Good Friday is ironic for those who are not believers. But for those of us who still believe, it's a time for us to reflect what sacrifice means. The word "good" comes from an Old English expression meaning "holy." And this is part of the Semana Santa festivities.


In San Miguel de Allende, on the evening of Good Friday, or "Viernes Santo", there is a "La Procesion del Silencio" the largest religious parade that happens in the early evening. It is the funeral of Christ, where many "andas" or floats are carried by the "costaleros". Each anda will have a statue of Christ nailed to the cross, one of Christ in a glass casket, one of the "Señora de Dolor" or our Lady of Sorrows, and well as many statues of angels and saints. This procession will take hours as there is a drum beat and everyone is quietly observing the many floats that will pass by.


The tortured body of Christ in a glass casket is lead thru the streets of San Miguel de Allende for Viernes Santo.
Viernes Santo in the Streets of San Miguel de Allende. Photo by Isis Rodriguez

Growing up Catholic, I understood this concept of suffering. As I became an artist, I would be sensitive to the injustice and unnecessary abuse of humanity on the news. I took classes in psychology to figure out why people hurt one another. I would study religion, philosophy and ancient mythology and would come to understand that these are ways that people cope with tragedy. I began to create my own mythology for a modern polarized world. I became obsessed by suffering and realized that great stories that we remember are the ones of that depict the hero/heroine who struggles and somehow overcomes.


This is a portrait oil painting called, "The Unbroken". I created this male archetype to express the power of resilience. He was inspired of the countless stories that men told me of their struggles and abuse. It belongs to my series called "CRUSH!" in which the topic is unconditional love.


This is a painting that depicts a man wearing a bull mask with banderillas stuck in his shoulders. It is painted by contemporary myth painter, Isis Rodriguez
"The Unbroken" 28"x48" Oil over Wood, by Isis Rodriguez

And why do we suffer? We suffer because we have the freedom to choose. Sometimes we become victims of our own bad decisions but survive. And sometimes we become the victims of other people's bad choices, like wars, bad government policies, abusive families, corrupt social services. We evolve and become symbols of resilience. Many of us have gone thru much trauma and we are still here. I am feeling the Jesus in me today.

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