Holy waters

This was going to be a completely different post, concentrating on the event we attended this past week. But, instead, I was completely absorbed by the visit of Pope Francis and the canonization of Saint Junípero Serra. What struck me as remarkable was the coincidence of my ongoing blog posts and Flickr sets focusing on the beautiful towns along the Central California coast. Every one of them was founded as a Catholic Mission by then Father Serra, a Franciscan priest, monk, Friar and scholar from Spain.  The lovely waters of the coast are dotted with memorials and reminders of this pioneering Catholic. There are 21 Missions in California, 9 of them were the work of this single man.

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So, I have been thinking about Pope Francis and this Franciscan, Saint Serra. I listened carefully to the message that the Papa reiterated in his addresses since arriving in the Americas.  As I looked over the photographs I took up in the beautiful places we visited and stayed last weekend, some of the most valuable real estate on earth, each home, restaurant, and site perched high over a sparkling ocean, glowing blue and morphing to gold by nightfall, I was struck by the contrast. These tributes to the good life, to capitalism, the free market American way, juxtaposed with the Pope’s relentless call to put such things at the bottom of our lists.

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While we were there, celebrating — as so many of our citizens do — bathed in luxury and comfort, the Pope was honoring a man who left his safe and protective university post and traveled to the shores of a distant, wild and hostile land, hoping to bring a message of love, peace, and kindness to people he believed were heathens.  Obviously, that mission was flawed, perhaps, misled, ill-advised, ill-fated by 21st century standards. But why, if we can barely shed our xenophobia, bigotry and cultural biases today would we expect a European man of his time to understand the value of leaving intact a culture he viewed as primitive, violent and condemned to eternal damnation?

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When I see Pope Francis, I see a man of sincere kindness, goodness, and gentleness. If you didn’t hear his historic imprecations to Congress, read them here and let these words sink in, especially if you are partisan.  Who would admit to any disagreement with these sentiments? And they are core-deep in this man, too.

A recent Papal analyst traveled to Argentina to see if in fact the people in the slums truly felt Francis had cared for them when he was their Bishop and Cardinal, and he found that people brought out pictures of Cardinal Bergoglio that had been taken with each of these miserables, as they are called there, no matter how humble. Tears of pride flowed down their faces. Francis did not just talk about mercy, he lived it.  How then could he support and canonize a man who was anything other, given the setting of the culture in which he worked in that day over two hundred years ago?

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And what is the ‘good life’ after all? A luxury home overlooking the Pacific surrounded by tony eateries and people with exquisitely adorned and attired pedigrees? Or is it being good, in that deep, true, heartfelt St. Francis – Papa Pancho sort of way. Working hard, leaving one’s comfort zone, opening, welcoming, gentling everyone we meet? I was listening to one of my favorite thinkers a few weeks ago, Naomi Wolf, and heard her say she believes in a peaceful, egalitarian world. I thought it was simple and profound. It sums up my philosophy so concisely.

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Pontiff means bridge. Pope Francis is a holy bridge over our troubled waters, i.e., our souls. And our divisive natures. He embodies goodness, kindness, charity, compassion, love, unity and inclusion.  I too want him to be my earthly role model.

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Next week, more of my Central California coast water-towns.

Images: Chez BeBe/LG Stylo with a bit of help from Lightroom and Topaz; click to enlarge them.

36 Comments on “Holy waters

  1. You capture beauty with your lens, Beth and reproduce it for the pleasure of all. Beautiful moments caught in time with thoughts that encourage appreciation and reflection. You recommend beauty in perception and share. So build the communal gallery.

    The notion that what is beautiful or of intrinsic value should be for solitary consumption of some to the exclusion of others seeking equity is a point well made by Pope Francis. An unwillingness to see and share.

    In identifying those he did, as workers for the greater good, and encouraging that their legacy be continued he highlights the two mindsets – the one that seeks to share and unite in the name of justice and love and the one that would dominate and divide in fear or greed. So build the world or tear it down.

    I’m with you and Francis. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Right? Finally, the RC Church has someone who is conveying Christ’s real message above all the judgment and rules, to the point: inclusion. Bring people in, then change hearts and minds. Not perch above them in judgment and condemnation and somehow expect that to bring them around. We have been watching him non-stop and he has restored my hope that my Catholic church will come back strong and compassionate from the depths to which it has periodically sunk, especially recently, steeped in horrible scandals. Thank you Anne-Marie — you and I think alike on so many things! ❤

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      • He speaks with such humility and tenderness it’s difficult to see how anyone could refuse his appeal. We’ll see how congress and others respond. I’m glad I wasn’t one of the guys sitting behind him when he spoke. One in particular looked quite awkward at the home truths and I don’t suppose any of us would want the lens of the world on us while we try to comport our faces to not reflect everything we feel. I’m the world’s worst for letting my face tell my thoughts – eyebrows to the sky, at times! – so I felt for them. Hope they listened though and take his thoughts on board then spread the word to here, there and everywhere so we can all reflect on our own culpability in how we deal in life.
        I’m so glad there are so many here on WP who share that sense of desire for justice and peace. It makes for a fellowship that makes the dream possible.x

        Liked by 1 person

        • Anne-Marie, I think Boehner probably agrees with a lot of things the Pope said. But he has been trying to herd crazies for the past few years. He finally threw in the towel. He is a very emotional guy. He was crying the whole time. Also because he knew, secretly, he was leaving and felt badly about having to go. He is fed up with the extreme views in his party. It’s sad. I don’t think this glow will last. Pope Francis would have to come every three months to wake these people up to Christ’s real message of mercy, love, kindness and charity. They think it is all about money and power … for themselves. 😦

          Liked by 1 person

          • Then my sympathies lie all the more with him, Beth, that he should be feeling so emotional with the cameras trained on him.
            It’s a pity, isn’t it, that those whose sole intent is power and lucre hold the control as to which policies are put into practice. Not to fear, Beth. I have a lot of faith in the power of ordinary people to alter events and change the tide. If his words have reached enough ears and the spirit moves within who knows what may arise? I think a lot of people all over the world are sick enough of what is done in their name to maybe just begin to demand the change. From his lips to our hearts and to action.x

            Liked by 1 person

            • I hope you are right. I think this ant-government insurrection is shameful. There are issues going begging so these people can show just how selfish they are. It has to change or this country will decline. It is embarrassing, too. xxoo

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  2. What a lovely heartfelt post, as a none Catholic I admire Pope Francis the more I hear of him and his down to earth messages. His removal of a lot of the trappings of his position like the gold and fancy shoes and clothing etc. He is a very inspiring individual.

    Loved your photos you inspire me too. ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Charlotte, thank you! Yes, finally, a Catholic Pope who can appeal to everyone. His message transcends doctrine. And, they have been playing the most amazing music. I don’t know if you heard it, but there was a Cantor at the World Trade Center 9/11 Memorial service yesterday who had the most exquisite, silky tenor voice. The music has been sublime. ❤

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  3. I will be back to comment but am pleased with Pope Francis supporting environmental issues and saying Priests should forgive all sins, even when church used to not forgive abortion. I believe some progress coming 🙂

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    • Yeah, that is why I posted the link (did I do that here or on Flickr? or both …) I have come to the conclusion that it’s fine with me. Net-net the natives could not have maintained their culture in the onslaught of Europeans. I don’t think Serra was actively involved in any of the so-called abuse. I believe he merely reflected his sincere belief of that time that they would be better off being Christians. A thorny issue, to be sure. Thank you Jason. His visit was inspiring.

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  4. Yes, Beth. Peace and gentility. We need it, and it’s right inside all of us, as you tell here so very well.

    My dear wife Karen and I truly enjoyed our visit to the Mission in Santa Barbara some 10 years ago. It’s gorgeous, still, with an aura of humility amid its grandeur.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, wow, so you know about it. Great! It is beautiful. One thing I found is that S. Barb. has become very hot, all year long, surprisingly. And, it is in a fire zone, so, even if we could afford it, I wouldn’t want to plunk myself down there. Where we decided on is right nearby and out of danger. How great that you were out here, Mark!

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      • Yes, my dear wife Karen is a native of LA, and she took me on a 10-day driving tour from San Diego to San Francisco in a rented Mustang convertible, Beth. Santa Barbara was one our stay-over stops. I loved it. 🙂

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        • Oh, boy, Karen is far from home and this warm climate! She is my twin, as I long to be in my native stomping grounds. But I have been here for 20 years — you would think I would get over myself by now, LOL! Brave, good, dear Karen. What a trip that must have been. My fave out here is the SF area.

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          • Karen has lived in Syracuse for 30 years, but will never forget the winter warmth of her SoCal. That’s for sure, Beth. Hey, I thought SF was really cool. We stayed right off Fisherman’s Wharf. Went to a Giants game. I took in the 60s vibe in Haight Asbury. We toured Gihardelli factory and store. Drove over the bridge and ate at a little cafe that looked over the water. Yup. I liked SF.

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            • You know what? I LOVE that whole area, especially the East Bay and think I will write about it for my winter destination pick. That area is just perfect (except less snow than I would like, but …). Everyone wants to live in SF and unfortunately it is like Manhattan, being priced out of our range.

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    • As long as we have exactly that: freedom, love, joy — you are so right. I know people who spend their lives hating. As St. Paul said, we can be happy in a hut or a castle, it is all up to us. Thank you so much, Barbara! xx

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  5. Beth, sorry I didn’t see this post earlier. I loved Pope Francis’ visit and hung on every word he spoke to Congress. Unfortunately they responded (they, being the right side of the aisle) as expected, saying his stand on global issues would wreck the economy and big business. (sigh)

    I thought he was right in exhorting both Congress and the U.N. I don’t remember when a religious figure – besides Mother Theresa and Gandhi – spoke true words of love and grace. And I am certain Jesus’ mysterious and powerful reach has both of them sitting right beside him as I write this. (And I am just as certain those who call themselves “christians” would be horrified at that previous statement. 😉 )

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    • Susan, I watched his entire visit, and when I couldn’t, I DVRd it and watched it later. I thought it was inspiring. I felt so uplifted and found myself tearing up repeatedly.

      I was heartened for awhile after the address to Congress, but then, what did Boehner do? He quit! Right after he sought counsel and solace from the Pope. Now we have the prospect of a literally illiterate, unprepared man about to take over that critical role. Didn’t they understand anything he said??

      Nonetheless, I bought some books on Pope Francis and I am sure he is inspired directly by God. What a blessing for us all.

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