Beginning Easter Sunday, our little family embarked on a week-long journey to visit as many of the California missions as we could. We set out after the morning's frivolity of hidden Easter eggs, treats and toys and drove straight to Santa Clara de Asis, which was bustling with churchgoers. We didn't stay for Easter Mass, but we did enjoy the grounds despite the cold wind and rain. I cannot begin to explain just how much I love these Spanish missions. I think it is their historic value; the feeling of stepping into a place that was once a thriving community of long-ago life and people that so intrigues me. Perhaps also it is my connection to Catholicism, as I spent my entire childhood years in Catholic school, from age five to 17. While these days I am more of a nature-lover, a taoist, buddhist, new age-type thinker (if it is necessary to give me a label at all ~ probably not) I must say that I loved my elementary school. I loved religion class, and would eagerly slip into the small chapel used for morning Masses during the weekdays to take my post as an alter girl or simply attend the morning mass before school.
Looking back, I see that I have always been an extremely spiritual being, drawn to various places and methods of reflection. Of course, then there is the element of early Native American life that I love love love.
Strolling through the mission walls, rooms and grounds, I pondered deeply the horribly negative influence that the Spanish missionaries imposed on the Native people in general, as many of the missions themselves were built by the hands of the aboriginals, enslaved in the name of the Christian God. I won't go on too much here, but I will say that I do find peace in seeking out these places. During our week-long trip we managed to visit 10 of the 21 missions. Two of those days were spent in a different fashion though; Isabella, Jude and I were stationed in Bakersfield while Jason dug for ancient shark's teeth in the hills outside of town. We reserved a room in a hotel that had a pool so Isabella was able to swim. We also went out for lunch together, did some shopping and got Isabella's ears pierced.
I am going to create blog posts featuring the missions (and a few of the hundreds of pictures I took) ~ One post for each mission visited. (: And as we weren't able to get to all of them, we will visit the six located closer to our home here in Oakland during a few of our upcoming weekends (: I am excited (:
After visiting Santa Clara de Asis, we continued on our journey and were met with a very fortuitous situation. The roads were slippery as it was raining, and a young girl who Jason had seen speeding by driving recklessly fast just moments before, smashed her car into a tree. As we came upon the accident, we spotted fire coming from the hood of the car, directly in front of the driver's side. A few men had stopped and were advancing upon the car. Jason pulled over on the side of the highway and raced over to the car, in which the girl was trapped, her leg pinned beneath crushed metal. The other men were, at this time, standing in the doorway of the passenger side, pulling on her arms and urging her to pull her leg out. Jason ran around to her door, which was pinned up against bushes and foliage and smashed her window out. The fire was growing quickly and the girl was terrified; She said she couldn't feel her leg at all, so Jason quickly yanked out her leg and released her from the wreck so that the men could pull her out.
All of this happened in a matter of a few minutes.
And then we continued on to the next mission on our journey.
Needless to say, I've got myself one really special man.
I love these images. They warm my heart. They are so very beautiful..I wear my own baby pretty much every day, and often for hours at a time. I wear Jude when I'm cleaning, or walking around town, or when he just plain wants me to hold him. When he was a tiny newborn and suffering from reflux much of the time, I would just pop him into the sling or moby wrap and he would be instantly content. Like magic. We don't even have a stroller and he's nearly ten months old! Jason carries him a lot too. He takes him for cozy walks in the evenings so I can enjoy an hour to myself..
The top four images were taken by Edward S. Curtis of Native American mothers from various tribes and their babes. The bottom two were photographed by other artists, the names I do not know. Recently, while visiting a lovely little Danish-inspired town named Solvang, I came across a gigantic book by Edward S. Curtis in the bookstore ~ Filled with huge sepia-toned pictures of Native Americans at the turn-of-the century, I was overcome with emotion; They were So beautiful. Now, I have seen his work before. I realize this in retrospect. But something happened when I saw those images in such a large format. I suppose that is the way it is with art. Of course it is meant to be seen in it's truest form, whatever that may be.