An episode of “I Love Lucy,” one which was based during the classic’s Hollywood shows, first introduced Mission San Juan Capistrano to an eight-year-old me. Lucy and Ethel mentioned the landmark – and its legendary springtime return of the swallows – as one of their sightseeing destinations. A few years later, the site showed up in more pop culture: “Earthquake,” the mid-70s disaster epic. In the movie, the mission’s historic tower bells toppled, as did most of LA’s architectural icons. With only those limited references back then, I remember being drawn to the site for some reason.
This week, I, along with my best friend, Joyce, finally had the opportunity to visit the “Jewel of Capistrano.” The seventh out of 21 missions built in California, it was founded on Nov. 1, 1776 and was originally an agricultural, cultural and religous hub for Spanish Padres and Native Americans. Seconds after entering the grounds, I knew I was entering a sacred place.
And, yes, there’s a story to tell. But, first, I have to back up a little. A week prior, I had an intuitive vision: an old, stone building caving in and burying people. Hovering above the harsh image of continuous dust and rocks was a black-cloaked man, who I assumed was “the leader.” In time, it’s meaning would be revealed…and, it was…on the grounds of Mission San Juan Capistrano.
Admiring the landscaped gardens and treasured dwellings, Joyce navigated with the help of a map and fact brochure. Squinting because she’d lost her sunglasses earlier in the day, Joyce read aloud that the mission’s original bells were relocated on the premises after a massive 1812 earthquake crumbled their tower. Tragically, the quake also demolished most of the stone constructed chapel, trapping and killing 40 people who were attending morning service. Hearing the story, I instantly got chills, as the hairs on my arms and legs stood at attention. The vision I was shown last week were now relevant, and I sensed an intense spiritual energy welcoming me.
Continuing our self-guided tour, we knelt inside the candlelit Serra Chapel. With eyes closed, I became reverent. Immediately, I started seeing countless spiritual bodies, who I felt as though were the caretakers of this special place of humanity. I felt a connection. I was meant to be there, to partake in this loving energy. Then, I was shown a pair of sunglasses being retrieved from a bag. I had a hunch where this was leading!
After the visit, we strolled back to the car and made our way to “the 5,” which would deliver us back to Joyce’s hotel. The auto’s visor did little to shield her eyes from the setting sun, as the morning haze had finally burned off. At that moment, she rechecked her backpack and, ta-da, there were her sunglasses. Nice touch to a wonderful experience.
Sacred places are all around us. Sometimes we have to search them out and embrace their good. This week, you might say, that was my “mission.”
Love and light,