Like The Queen
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Sunday, April 03, 2005  

So what were you doing in 1979? It is so long ago I was a YoungThing back then. I had a little three year old, playing on Grandma’s screen porch as I leafed through the Spanish magazine Hola and looked at pictures of princesses and other European rich folk. I still smoked back then. The BeeGees were hot. The Shah of Iran was kicked off his peacock throne. Stagflation was the word. I worked only 2 days a week at the library - as that sweet young little cataloger. BD began working as a surveyor and we had the foundation for the new house dug. Soviet communism was still a world threat. I still had long hair.

So that was my world when Karol Jozef Wojtyla became Pope John Paul II. He is not the only pope I remember, but he’s the only one who played a global role. I remember being very proud to think that a vigorous, young and brave man was stepping up to the throne. I come from a very lapsed Catholic family. My exposure to things religious was minimal before high school, by which time it was expected that all the girls at St. Gertrude’s High School had already been indoctrinated into the church’s rituals and mysteries, so we spent all our time worrying about Relevancy and the question “Is French Kissing A Sin?”. Popes were a little like kings - things for Europe to deal with, not us. John the 23rd was important to Catholics, but seemed more a curiosity to all my southern Baptist girlfriends. Paul 6 set into motion the many changes that came out of the second Vatican council and already I was growing into a stodgy resister of Change. I remember how dismayed Sister Hildegardes was when her patron saint was desanctified. She was so simple and so childlike and it seemed dreadful to me that she should have to change her name after 30 years of saintly identity. I valued many things in my brief time as a Catholic school girl, but as in everything I’ve ever done, I took only what I liked from what the church had to offer and left what didn’t seem to have anything to do with me. I wouldn’t make a very good Catholic now.

Still - I am moved by the passing of John Paul 2. It is a further mark on the passage of time. It is an ending of an era, a period. I am not really qualified to assess the work he did. I merely bow my head in respect to the life of a man who strode with boldness and compassion, who struggled for decisions with a powerful intellect and a deep conviction. I am strangely glad to have lived in the same world as he, grateful for his presence, his work, his life.

Pax.

posted by Bess | 8:52 AM
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