Greetings from Spain & Apologies for Such a Long Silence

The Queen Mary 2 by which Peggy and I made our way from NYC to South Hampton before traveling by plane to Madrid and then to Granada in Spain. Our stateroom was on the 11th deck, 2nd room aft.

If anyone’s paying attention, I must offer an apology for such a long gap between postings here. The fact is that for the past 10 days, I’ve been absolutely unable to post anything. The reason? Peggy and I have been in transit from the U.S. to Spain (Grenada), where we’ll be living for at least the next 2 or 3 months. There has also been a serious issue with COVID.

We’ve come to Spain at the invitation of our daughter and son-in-law who are here on a year-long sabbatical. We’re so grateful, since this gives us all that time to be with 5 of our 7 grandchildren.

Getting here was an adventure. For one thing, it involved a 7-night cruise on the Queen Mary 2 (QM2 pictured above). I never imagined my making such a voyage. I guess my face is still red from doing something so luxurious. (How do I square that, for instance, with my professed commitment to liberation theology? Oh well, as Walt Whitman said, “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself.” Sigh.)

I must admit though that the cruise was wonderful for all the reasons you might suspect: non-stop sumptuous meals, people waiting on us hand and foot, top-class floor shows, dancing, music performances of various kinds in the ship’s many pubs, bars, and parlors, and long hours of silent contemplation of divine presence nowhere as clearly evidenced, I think, as in the ocean. (Someone has said, “The ocean doesn’t simply remind us of God. The ocean is God.” In some mysterious way, I think that’s true. We’ve all come from the water. About 60% of our bodies is water, even now.)

And while I can’t claim that all of that wasn’t fun, it also made me think guiltily about white privilege, colonialism, wealth disparities and the fast-approaching end of my own life.

Yes, almost all of the Queen Mary’s passengers were white. And almost all of the waitpersons were not. Most of the latter turned out to be from the Philippines. And their attitude reflected what colonists have always expected from “the white man’s burden”: “We exist to serve you. How can I make you more comfortable, sir? Can I get you anything else?”

Never, I’m sure, did it cross most of our minds that these “servants” had their own ambitions, romances, families, worries, contradictions, rich stories — and hidden resentments about “the master.”

Oblivious to all that, most of us passengers had the means necessary to have such a luxurious experience. Most of us were wealthy and old. At one point, it occurred to me that the QM2 resembled a floating nursing home with many of the voyagers using canes, walkers, and wheelchairs. The fact is that in 10-years time, few from among us will still be alive. So much for wealth, privilege, and colonialism. Then (as now) all that will matter is what that vast ocean embodies.

I got a sharp reminder of such mortal realities just after disembarking from the QM2 last Sunday. I came down with a devastating case of COVID 19.

I know; I know: what did I expect getting on a ship like that? As one of my friends asked long before our departure: “Do you know what your and Peggy’s favorite game must be? It’s probably Russian Roulette. That’s what you’re doing spending 7 nights on a ship during COVID! You’re toying with your lives!”

Well, my friend turned out to be right. And after a very long day of travel on Sunday, the malady kicked in big time. I literally thought I was going to die.

Thanks be to God, I didn’t of course. But before closing my eyes Sunday night, I did mumble to Peggy, “If I don’t make it through the night, honey, know that I love you and it’s been a good run.”

I even thought, “This would be an easy way to slip out, wouldn’t it? — except there’ll be all the difficulty involved in shipping my body back to the States. Too bad.”

My internal monologue continued, “But there’s still so much left for me to do.”

“And what would that be?” I asked myself.

“Nothing,” came my quick and honest reply. Nothing. And that was it. I felt surprisingly ready to go. I felt so tired.

Three days later, I’m still feeling exhausted. But here I am writing. So, I guess I’m out of the woods.

Time will tell.

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Mike Rivage-Seul's Blog

Emeritus professor of Peace & Social Justice Studies. Liberation theologian. Activist. Former R.C. priest. Married for 45 years. Three grown children. Six grandchildren.

5 thoughts on “Greetings from Spain & Apologies for Such a Long Silence”

    1. Thanks, Ha. It was so good and uplifting to hear from you. I have such good memories of our interactions as teacher and student, colleague and teaching associate, and simply as friends. I also so admire what you’ve achieved after returning home. I feel so proud of you.

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  1. Mike! I am relieved to hear you are recovering…. And that you are in Spain! I will be in Valencia the weekend before thanksgiving. Any chance you’d want to explore Valencia that weekend and meet up? I looked into the possibility of going to Granada for a night (bc that’s all I’d have free – I’m going for work), but it’s a little hard to get there for a short period. So I thought I would ask you if you have any travel plans to explore North Eastern Spain and would just happen to be passing through Valencia that weekend. A girl can hope! Would love to see you – on either side of the Atlantic.

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