I had some thoughtful responses to my last post entitled “Holy Week,” especially concerning the concept of sin, and penance for sin. The comments have made me want to explain my thinking a bit more. I am seeking on this pilgrimage, and in life, to understand myself, and the world, better, so that I may be more peaceful, joyful, and helpful.

The concept of sin brings up strong emotions for many people. Especially when someone else is suggesting that we have sinned and should do some sort of penance for our sins. No doubt there have been institutions of various kinds that have used shame as a means of controlling others and many of us are wary of such tactics, with good reason. But that doesn’t mean that self-examination and self-correction are not helpful disciplines for achieving emotional and spiritual growth.

When I described myself in my last post as an “insecure and self-centered person,” I did so with complete self-empathy. I was attempting to explain that these characteristics are pretty normal, and that the “sins” or harms I have done to myself and others (which are real) are the natural result of my humanity. It’s a great advantage and even a joy to be able to see how my fears, beliefs, and prejudices cause me to suffer, and to cause others to suffer right along with me. So I continue to watch for these tendencies, actively working at staying connected to the Source of all Life by praying, meditating, and giving service as I can. I have found institutions, organizations and people along the way that have helped me in my search for a meaningful way of life.

As I travel (by foot or by any other means) this California Mission trail, I am visiting the missions and other churches as they present themselves to me. The recent history of this area is dominated by the influence of the Catholic Church. Some believe the Franciscan missionaries (especially Junipero Serra) to be saints, while others see them as abusive dictators. I can’t be the judge of the  missionaries’ true motives. They probably thought they were doing the right thing in attempting to convert the local native peoples to Christianity and to teach them how to be farmers and craftsmen. If they were brutal in their treatment of the natives it defies logic and understanding, especially since they were brothers of the Franciscan order. St. Francis of Assisi was anything but abusive and violent, by all accounts.

I don’t wish to engage in a discussion of the inherent worth or lack thereof of the missionaries’ actions. It is just one more controversy that can be infinitely debated. I prefer to be present to what is, now, and to look for the good and the beautiful in all things. The glass is not only half full, it is full to the brim, and overflowing!

 I’m in Soledad now, at the home of my friend Gloria. Here’s a couple of photos of her beautiful back yard. She is an avid gardener.

You may see me in town this weekend at the Earth ? Day festivities. I’m going to get an acupuncture treatment, and may get my bicycle?


8 thoughts on “Further musings on self-examination

  1. Jody,

    I am reading a book, “Travels With a Baja Burro” that is about a man (Graham Mackintosh) walking the missions of Baja, from the border to Loreto. He is using a burro as a pack animal. Included in his musings are many examples from the historical literature about the missionaries’ motives, and actions. There is certainly enough ammunition there to feed both sides of the argument about the merits of the missionaries. And one can split hairs further by pitting Franciscans against the Dominicans, etc.

    The great thing about your trek is that it is solely yours and if you decide to use your feet, a stroller, or a bike, you get to answer only to yourself. I hope that the foot is doing better. Perhaps you should consider getting a burro? Or maybe a llama…

    1. Hi Matt!

      Yes, I only have myself to consider, in a way, though what each of us does or doesn’t do does have an affect on the totality.

      There’s a woman who did something similar in Baja not long ago named Edie Littlefield Sundby. She also wrote a book that is scheduled to come out in July. I preordered a copy on Amazon.
      Hope all is well for you.

  2. Hola Jody,

    Estaré en la Mision de San Juan Bautista mañana con unos alumnos de español del DLI. Me han invitado para proveer una “mini-inmersión” en español para los estudiantes. Vamos a visitar la Mision y luego almorzar en los Jardines restaurante. No voy a caminar como tú, sino vamos en autobus/camion. Pero de todos modos, vamos a estar al lado del Camino Real allá en San Juan Bautista. Pensaré en tí mañana, rezando por tu recuperación rapida.

    Un abrazote,

  3. Aye, que bueno Alicia! De cualquier método de transportación, es interesante visitar a los lugares antiguos de California. Siempre me ha gustado ir a los adobes y a las misiones.

    Parece que yo necesito aceptar que no puedo caminar el Camino ahora. No hay verguenza en eso. Disfruten de su día!

  4. So happy to know you have continued on, hope your foot doesn’t hurt.
    One day at a time. Love going your way.

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