For days I carried around Marie Ponsot's new book of poetry, Easy, another of my purchases at City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco. It rested in my handbag as we rode the Cal-Train to San Jose to see our friend Mary Warner, who teaches at San Jose State. She took us to see the beautiful Santa Clara Mission, where outside the roses were in full display. Raised Presbyterian, with the fierce anti-Catholic attitude that sometimes comes along with that upbringing, I have always loved the interiors of Catholic missions.
I remembered a Ponsot poem that had captivated me the night before, a short piece entitled Transport.
is smaller than the lifelove it stands for,
just as we suppose the savior
we employ or see next door
The eight white crosses on the front lawn memorialize the 1989 martyrdom of the six University of Central America Jesuit priests and their co-workers during the Salvadoran Civil War. The Santa Clara Mission brought back into focus for me the real meaning of Christ's message, a message too often ignored and abused in these days of fundamentalist dogma that has made me want to keep my distance from any church interior. Strangely enough, I stood inside Mission Santa Clara and felt an unusual sense of peace and history, even knowing that history was filled with blood and suffering. And outside, the roses, the roses.....