A couple of weekends ago I went down to Santa Barbara. I had an inspiring tour through an inspiring place with two very inspiring women. My mom, Adam’s mom, and I toured the museum and gardens of the Santa Barbara Mission. It was built in 1786 but is still a site of education, reflection, and worship. It’s a Franciscan mission. Although I am not religious, and certainly not Catholic, I have always like Saint Francis of Asissi for being the patron saint of animals and the environment.
The gardens were beautiful and I can imagine a quiet life spent in study and contemplation in just such a place. Although the buildings were originally adobe, the present church was rebuilt in a stronger manner with sandstone in 1820 after having been destroyed by an earthquake in 1812.
Above the entrance to the rear church doors are skull and crossbones carvings. I was surprised to see them because I think of skulls as being punk-rock, or at least piratical. However, here they were used to indicate a cemetery location. Did anyone else read Island of the Blue Dolphins as a kid? It was based on the true story of a Nicoleno Indian woman that was abandoned and survived alone on San Nicolas Island, near Santa Barbara, for 18 years. There is a memorial to her in the cemetery garden at the Santa Barbara Mission.
I was so happy to be in the company of two women I love and admire and to know that they love, admire, and support me in return. Having role models is so important and it’s a blessing that I have these two role models in my family.
The original living quarters for the missionaries are now a museum and contain artifacts from the early mission period. I thought that the antique music manuscript was lovely. I really miss music being a part of my life and have gotten Adam to promise me that we can buy a piano as soon as we leave San Francisco. I haven’t yet convinced him to join a choir with me, but hopefully I’ll get there.
I thought the pieces de resistance were the antique vestments. This particular piece shows a Chinese influence from the Chinese workers that were brought into the area to build the railroads. I got a kick out of the display they had of a monk that designed and embroidered vestments in the 1970’s. He was just what you would imagine – wearing birkenstocks with frizzy hair and a giant grin in his picture.