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Among My Souvenirs

Stories of the road

Circle of Friends

Barcelona, at last! What an amazing, vibrant city. The weather pleasant on the November evening as we arrived for our last couple of days in Spain.

The next morning our city tour took us up the hill to Sants-Montjuïc that overlooks the beautiful harbor of Barcelona. Here were the lush botanic gardens, the 17th Century castle and the site of the 1992 Olympics all sitting side by side surrounded by well-manicured roadways that support the heavy traffic that enjoys the many happenings in the various venues on top of the Mont. The hilltop not only offers a sweeping view of the harbor but a 180’ look at the city of Barcelona that lies below with many of its famous sites nestled among the bustling cityscape.

As we existed the bus, I saw a familiar large stone carving, one that I had always called the Circle of Friends.

The Circle of Friends! Many years ago, I saw the Circle of Friends candleholder in a shop in California and thought it would make a great gift for my lay leader program. Legend has it that the circle statue originated with the Mayans. It is a group of people (friends) dancing, singing and celebrating together with arms interwoven. The smaller holders had 3 people, the larger 7 generally they are made of clay. When a small votive candle was placed in the center of the circle, it cast interesting shadows around the room that would make it seem like the people were dancing as the flame flickered. It was a gift to symbolize warmth, friendship, a bond of close relationship. It served as a focal point for all of our community gatherings for many years.

Imagine my surprise to see this larger than life circle here on the top of the mount. The sculpture is titled the Monument a La Sardana. Though the basic meaning is the same, the Barcelona circle is a little different. It is celebrating a dance called the Sardana where people join hands and dance in a circle while keeping time to drum taps. It is the national dance of Catalonia and performed by dancers holding raised hands, as the dance progresses the circle in enlarged by more people joining in. This statue consists of four couples, male/female alternating, in a circle and holding raised hands. It was created in 1966 and shows the dancers in traditional dress.

I would like to think that nestled here among the beauty, the old and the new, and the interwoven circles of the Olympic logo, the circle dance of the Sardana invites us to celebrate unity, fellowship, and peace – one world lifting one another high in a circle of love.