From hospital center to community
Today is 24/12/21. It’s what «we» call «Christmas» eve. Jesus is supposed to be born tomorrow. So today we wait for it. Again. He is expected to be born in our hearts, again. It’s a tradition from «our» culture. If we only assume one.
Unity is a strange thing. It forces one narrative to be on top of the others. And that’s ok. It’s simple. Life sometimes asks to be simple. As it is seldom not. And «we» are in the middle of it. Trying to juggle with the balls that we’ve been handed.
The cross is still with us. Or rather we still carry the cross. Only the cross is not be the way to remember Jesus today. Not today. Today He’s to be born. A baby. From a miraculous inception. Against all odds. In an exodus that took his family to move to a new land, from Judea to Bethlem. So the story tells.
At the heart of this story are the Romans. Those «evil» ones who’s sanitation brought some structure to «our» cities. And roman law. And all those things The Life of Brian tells teaches us to see with a new set of eyes, through humour. Demographics is also in the center of this story, as it is the census that saves Jesus from the slaughter of the innocent babies depicted in the Sagrada Familia nativity scene. This story, as all good ones, is political.
Jesus is born. Halleluyah. He’s excpetional story is told by the testimonials of those who listen to him. It was a new story He told. He spoke of a new kingdom, far from the established powers of politics and religion. A revolutionary with a cause. To go beyond. And somehow he’s story was to survive after his death. And somehow his example would help others in their own struggle to keep on. Life, within our minds, is somehow sometimes complicated.
The cross (even if it’s not that Jesus’ passage we are revisiting today) is still here with us. In different context. For one thing all of our hospitals have a big cross, bright neon light, shinning on top of our institutions. Our hospital history is also linked to the churchs history, and to history of our city, within the ancient walls. The Hospital street in Barcelona guard what is the second oldest hospital in Europe and one of the oldest institutions standing: Hospital de la Santa Creu. Before that, some 620 years ago, it was decided in this same land I inhabit, that the two city «hospitals» and the four churches were people went to die would need to be clustered into what was the first hospital in our town, that was built around one of them, a church called La Paloma (a dove, much like the holy ghost), a chappel that is still standing at a corner where now art expositions take place, and who’s ancient history is seldom remembered.
That hospital became Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, when a rich swiss-catalan banker left half of his fortune to built a modern hospital in his native city. His name: Pau Gil. His name was to be printed all over the place, and the saint that game him a name, to be praissed within the legacy of this infrastructure. A mainstream modernist architect, Lluis Domenech i Muntaner was hired to do the job, that stands in clear opposition with the city layout defined by Idelfons Cerdà in the Eixample urbanist structure. The pavilions in Sant Pau face the sun, and the sea, south, and break up the grid to provide a new sense of space that has become somehow of a golden ratio standard for built space and public space for threes and the community to walk around.
I was in charge or organizing and setting up the Exodus of the entire Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau activity, patients and professionals from that modernist Unesco heritage buildings into the XXI century hospital being built at the top grounds of the slopes in which the hospital land was built. The history of our community shifted and what was once an readaptation of spaces to fulfill the needs of modern hospital into a modernist suit gave pass to a new sort of architecture that was expected to resolve some of the things Domenech i Muntaner did not forsee more than a hundred years earlier.
The entrance of the modernist hospital resembles the stature of a monument that stands in front of Sagrada familia and salutes with a straigh proud face one institution to the other: church and church-hospital.
It’s not just symbolism. The church is part owner of Sant Pau. The stones and lands are sealed in a document signed 620 years ago by the city hall and the Church to build that first hospital. The institutions role has been to survive that Jesus story and somehow it’s still present. The legacy in that modernist Sant Pau building is clear as you enter: you are in front of a building holiest that a church. Pau Gil stands there, a bust; no body. His PG all over the place, as the architect was clearly well paid. He was the rockstar of the moment, and in this land the local rock and roller always gets the spotlight and the cash.
Sain Paul greats you along with the holly cross. Just the cross. No Jesus. It’s the cross that is being present here. The golder calf was melted, remember, as Moses told those in the dessert when they were being sold a shinny pyramid scam. It’s a whole new thing: one God only.
We tend to forget the jewish tradition, as we intentionally erase six centuries (that is six hundred years of our history) because the ruling powers then were muslims. Our mislead conception of history is still quarrelling if northern escandinavian vikings landed in «America» some 500 years earlier that the glorified and inevitably intertwined history of our mestizo culture, with all the violences that we still bare in the cross we carry.
Much like Jesus I was thrown out Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau through a back door. People didn’t care. I entered in a crisis that took me nine years to resolve. It’s on me, I thought, but my close one also suffered from this circumstances. Father, why have you forsaken me?
I was left in the dessert to wonder along the path of many other cursed. I found myself lost and wondering in the scope of figuring out a way out of that situation. In a positive way. But I had been left hopeless in the open waters of a mediterraneum dream. But I had no right to be there. No excuse. I had to somehow show the value to an audience that was not there. I felt not only alone but cursed. My loved ones were suffering my incapacity to cope with what was happening. And I certainly did not come out the other end the way I was supposed to. I was left wondering in the dark. And my light was overtaken by the shadows.
I did not go (entirely) mad because of art. I had to tell a story and I knew no one would understand. So I just told it to myself. The same old story. Over and over. How to come out this black hole into a NEW dimension. Every time I wrote that text, or filmed that piece of performative art documentary I did. Every time. I came through my curse. And it kept me safe. Alive. It was a higher hope. A bigger than myself return. Too big to present like that, coming from a crumbled soul.
I am a humble man. A man indeed, but not that kind of cursed man. My own kind I guess. I also carry that cross. And bear with the privilege of walking around without the fear of encountering harm along my path, as women do. Not sure if that’s the case here, outside the grasp of catholic schools and public schools with Barcelona FC coaches. This is not just my story, but inevitably, if I am going to tell anyone else’s story, I need you to hear my own. You are going to have to give me that poetic licence.
Is this cross of ours that we recognize with the heath services we have a universal symbol? It’s clearly not. The moon and the star are the ones shinning in some muslim countries. I don’t know about the hospitals in Israel, but I supposed the would use the star of David. No idea. But the thing is health is universal. Our struggle to survive and to live in a society that takes care of itself, by teaching us the way in which we can collectively mantein a system that provides this high value care with fair access for all, regardless of where we are coming from in the population pyramid. The cause for a global movement towards understanding the issues that are conditionning our capabilities to shift our social and health systems towards a more resilient and community based system is what we need to face collaboratively. Now.
I was once Jesus at the cross. I’ve played that role. It’s not that I am Jesus: he lives in me. He is my brother. I’m as holy as he was; humanly. If we are not all given the chance to be as holy as he was, then that is not the message he was actually delivering. It’s just been instrumentalized by the institutions that still hold the power of bearing the intermediation between you and Him. But maybe you are fine with that, but I’m not.
I’ve studied the life of Jesus, his tales, and the ones in the old testament, much more fantastic that Marvel movies. At the end we are given a choice to believe this or that. And believing elsewhere means to understand other stories from other perpectives. Not believing in anything is allowed. And believing false stories have become a national sport that has been taken to the limit with the election of presidents that represent their own interest only, backed up by a group of followers with mislead information that cheer at the golden calf with the inspiration of a armed insurrection. Have ultimately gone mad as a society?
My mental health is now somehow recovered. But I’m not sure if I could take a misinterpretation of just one of my stories. I’ve got not publisher but myself. I could try to publish a formal book that you can physically buy next Sant Jordi. It’s going to be a collaborative co-creation in which I’ll try to multiversely arrive there with a NEW value proposition taking place. I’m so ready for it.
I’ve been instructed by Father God, cousing of Father Christmas, to come down and tell you that the story has been modified. My kingdom is now from a NEW dimension. And I’ve been given the task to unite us all into a single word in which to find the entire confort one glimpse of time and space can support within your soul, but especially, within your mind: ALLS.