Saturday, March 16, 2013
Pope Francis makes a world of difference
Just before twilight, we hike to the mountain lake. It is bitter cold, and the lake is an endless field of virgin snow.
A bright blue ice house sits on the surface, and I wonder if the occupant is safe inside.
As night falls, we climb the steep hill to the country inn and yearn to be warm again.
I imagine the huge keeping room, the logs burning brightly in the fireplace, the plaid wingback chair that I long to sink into.
On an anniversary weekend getaway in New Hampshire, we are three hours away from home; but distance will not erase the workings of my mind.
No matter where I go, I cannot escape the happenings of this past week.
It is a great time to be a religion writer.
Moving the red and black checkers on the other side of the table, I set my laptop down and begin to write in the midst of the busy lobby, while guests check in and children race back and forth.
A woman settles onto the couch with her grandson. She speaks French to the child, and the beautifully sounding words are like music, so foreign to my ears but yet so natural.
The people of the world came together this week in a way I have never experienced before.
Awaiting news of the new pope, all eyes were fixed on the Vatican; and in Latin, Italian, Spanish, English and thousands of other dialects spoken around the planet, word finally came.
The new world leader and successor to the See of Peter is Pope Francis.
Seventy-six-year-old Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina had been elected by the conclave.
And then the reporters went to work:
The first Jesuit … the first non-European in a millennium … the first Latin American … the first Argentinian … humble … compassionate … devoted to the poor … an advocate for social justice … a scholar and teacher … lives simply … rides the bus … a man of the people ... unpretentious … wears a white cassock and simple wooden cross … slips out of the Vatican to pay a bill and then again to visit an ailing priest in the hospital … preaches from the pulpit like a parish priest rather than sitting and reading in the tradition of his predecessors … the first pope to choose Francis (with no Roman numeral after his name) in honor of the saint, a servant of the sick and poor …
And the people rejoiced.