The Brotherhood of the Blood (la Confrérie de la Sanch) is a religious and charitable organization that has existed in Perpignan since 1416. Its founding mission was to commemorate the Passion of Christ, which is the short, final period of the life of Jesus Christ; to assist prisoners who had been condemned to death; and to preach penance and help sinners prepare for their final judgement and salvation. As part of this mission, members of the brotherhood, known as penitents, would accompany prisoners condemned to death on their final walk through the city to the scaffold.
PHOTOS BY HAWA IMAGES, USED BY PERMISSION OF WORLD RELIEF CHICAGOLAND
Years ago, a neighbor gave me a glossy 4×6-inch picture of Myanmar politician Aung San Suu Kyi backed by the red and yellow of the National League for Democracy’s flag. I no longer remember the giver’s identity—at that time my Burmese neighbors numbered in the hundreds—but since the country’s late-January military coup that imprisoned Suu Kyi and others, Myanmar (formerly Burma) has been on my mind.
When I reflect now, those three years among the Burmese were like bootcamp for me, a foundational, immersive course in relating to people different from me. At that time, I didn’t realize this would be a preparatory phase for longer-term work among refugees. I moved in with the idea that I would help them—I did not know how much my neighbors would shape me.
Today, I saw some storks. Three, to be exact, flying over the Western Mediterranean marshlands where I live, heading to their breeding grounds further north. Late January and a presage of spring already, accompanying the mimosa trees that have suddenly burst into flower as though a child has taken a pot of the brightest yellow paint she could find and splashed drops all over a wintery canvas. It was just as the spring migration was beginning last year that France entered its first lockdown.
ENGLISH AND HUNGARIAN TEXT BY ZSOFIA GERLEI
PHOTOS BY ARMON MEANS
Just like most parts of the world, Hungary registered its first COVID-19 cases in March. Nine months ago, as I write this in December, which should feel like a long time but honestly it doesn’t. Maybe because looking back at it, it hasn’t brought much of a change for me.
I gave my heart and soul to Spain, but not just to the country—rather, I gave them to Valencia. The name itself swells something in me that to this day I cannot adequately define with words. Pronouncing it evokes a sort of ache, as though I’ve both held and lost this eastern swath of Spain. Like the undulating minor keys of flamenco music, the name Valencia calls out a history that was never really mine, and yet is so deeply a part of my childhood that I cannot separate myself from it.
I’ll be honest: It was Norway I’d begun dreaming of. My imagination was taken captive by images of fjords and pines, of iron and snow and bears, of iced sea light and a refreshing, starry cold. I was certain this was the next place beauty would greet me.
I can’t tell you how many times Megan and I have nearly tripped over a tombstone during this pandemic.
As our corgi Bentley barks to get off-leash and run through the historic Union Cemetery, it’s easy to nearly twist an ankle on a broken headstone that I could have sworn wasn’t there, even though I’ve walked this spot what seems like hundreds of times.