I am inside San Juan Bautista Mission church, sitting in a pew toward the back of the church. The air is cool and still and dimly lit with golden afternoon light filtering through high windows. Franciscan chants weave their holy way down the long corridor outside.
A book has accompanied me here, Pastures of Heaven by John Steinbeck. Along with two rather small pastries from the town bakery in a little white sack and a bottle of water.
After a bit, it seems fitting to kneel and read my book as though reading from a prayerbook. Occasional tourists meander in. They walk up and down the aisles then back out. I am left to my reading.
The story begins in 1776 with a Spanish soldier and his horse chasing some runaway Indian slaves over the nearby hills of Salinas. At the top of one hill, looking out over the numerous rolling hills beyond with great green pastures, he called them “pastos del cielo,” pastures of heaven.
I sit down again on the old, creaky, brown pew and eye the little white sack. Inside, I draw out a glazed creme-filled puff. As I take a small bite, I think “my God, the only thing I ever ate in church before was the Communion wafer.”
Feeling ever so peaceful and connected to this otherworldly realm, I continue to eat my pastry and enjoy my little picnic with God.
Ever Grateful ~ Annie
ps. Thank you, Amber, for the wonderful and apt title!