Canción de Jinete: The Grace in Waiting

Waiting is the hardest. Why? Because if you’re waiting, you know that something is coming. You’re not blissfully ignorant. Yet, if you’re waiting, you don’t truly know what is coming, what it will be like. That’s why waiting is so difficult, often worse than the moment itself. To be human is to wait. Our minds allow us to see something of what is coming. We know a little, but never enough.

The poem “Canción de Jinete” by Spain’s great Federico García Lorca captures the frightful burden, which the future can be. We don’t know who the horseman is, or what waits for him at Córdoba. Indeed, he only knows enough to fear, but on he rides, knowing that he will never reach the city.

Advertisement

 

Córdoba
Lejana y sola.
Jaca negra, luna grande,
Y aceitunas en mi alforja.
Aunque sepa los caminos
yo nunca llegaré a Córdoba
Por el llano, por el viento
Jaca negra, luna roja.
La muerte me está mirando
desde las torres de Córdoba.
¡Ay qué camino tan largo!
¡Ay mi jaca valerosa
¡Ay que la muerte me espera,
antes de llegar de Córdoba!
Córdoba.
Lejana y sola.
 
Córdoba
Distant and lonely.
Black steed, big moon,
and olives in my saddlebag.
Although I know the roads
I will never reach Córdoba.
Across the plain, through the wind
Black steed, red moon.
Death is staring at me
from the towers of Córdoba.
Oh, how long the road is!
Oh, my valiant steed!
Oh, death awaits me,
before I reach Córdoba.
Córdoba.
Distant and lonely.
 

Jesus is aware that his hour approaches. He knows that he will be thrown down. He is “troubled.” Waiting, he weaves, within his own heart, the meaning of what will come:

The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat;
but if it dies, it produces much fruit (Jn 12: 23-24).

 

There is a grace in the waiting that must not be squandered. If God has created us as those who see ahead, whether in hope or fear, there is a purpose. While we wait, we must struggle to make sense of what lies in sight, to prepare ourselves for what is to come. In Evangelii Gaudium Pope Francis tells us that readied expectation stands at the core of the Christian faith. He contrasts space, in which we possess, with time, in which we hope.

A constant tension exists between fullness and limitation. Fullness evokes the desire for complete possession, while limitation is a wall set before us. Broadly speaking, “time” has to do with fullness as an expression of the horizon which constantly opens before us, while each individual moment has to do with limitation as an expression of enclosure. People live poised between each individual moment and the greater, brighter horizon of the utopian future as the final cause which draws us to itself. Here we see a first principle for progress in building a people: time is greater than space (§222).

 

The night before he died, Jesus told his disciples, “Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mk 14: 38; Mt 26:41; Lk 22:46). Preparing one’s self for what would come imbued the very spirituality of Jesus. In the Lord’s Prayer, he taught his disciples to pray “lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil (Mt 6:13; Lk 11:4).”

Put another way, the life of the disciple must be like that of the Lord: pondering the future, even in fear, yet prayerfully going forward.

In the days when Christ Jesus was in the flesh,
he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears
to the one who was able to save him from death,
and he was heard because of his reverence (Hb 5: 7-8).

 

In prayer, the Holy Spirit sanctifies time, heals the past and fortifies the future. It is the Holy Spirit who readies our hearts for what is to come.

Although I know the roads
I will never reach Córdoba.
Across the plain, through the wind
Black steed, red moon.
Death is staring at me
from the towers of Córdoba.
Oh, how long the road is!
Oh, my valiant steed!

 

Jeremiah 31: 31-34  Hebrews 5: 7-9  John 12: 20-33

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Beth Cioffoletti
3 years 2 months ago
The poem seems to suggest (to me) that perhaps it is Jesus (the "valiant steed" that we are riding. What a wild ride it is. If Death is staring from the towers of Cordoba, and we never reach Cordoba, distant and lonely, is it only the ride we can know? I'm having a hard time knowing what to do with "Cordoba". Is that the destination? Beyond death?

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

The Holy Spirit might be the forgotten person of the Holy Trinity.
James Martin, S.J.May 21, 2018
Pope Francis walks past cardinals as he leaves a consistory in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican June 28, 2017. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Pope Francis is trying to ensure that those who elect his successor are humble men committed to “a church of the poor and for the poor.”
Gerard O’ConnellMay 21, 2018
James Martin, S.J. discusses this groundbreaking exhibition with Andrew Bolton, Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute and C. Griffith Mann, Michel David-Weill Curator in Charge of the Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 
America StaffMay 21, 2018
Archbishop Matteo Zuppi (Photo/Community of Sant'Egidio website)
Archbishop Matteo Zuppi of Bologna calls Father James Martin’s book ‘Building a Bridge’ ‘useful for encouraging dialogue, as well as reciprocal knowledge and understanding.’
Matteo ZuppiMay 21, 2018