Soledad, California. Translated, “The Mission of Mary, Our Lady of Solitude.” The ruins of this mission were restored in 1955. Today the church and one of the buildings have been reconstructed; the other three sides of the quadrangle are currently in ruins. The remains of the north wing adobe wall is being protected from further erosion by a shelter that was erected recently. The museum consists of four rooms: Room 1 describes the lifestyle of the Esselen and Ohlone Native American people who lived in the area 200 years ago, Room 2 tells of the changes that took place with the founding of Mission Soledad under Spanish rule, Room 3 describes the Mexican influence in the area, and Room 4 presents the California of the early Americans. We found the museum very well organized and informative.
As we were leaving we had a conversation with a young man named Conner with whom we had briefly spoken at Mission San Miguel. He, too, is making a tour of the missions. “I’m trying to piece things together,” he said. Not knowing much about him, I didn’t pursue the thoughts behind his comment, but those words have stuck in my mind. Traveling from mission to mission, it seems we pick up different bits of information from each one, as if they are pieces to a big puzzle. But sometimes the information seems contradictory, as if some pieces don’t quite fit. As we put the pieces together, maybe we can gain a better understanding of the way things really were. However, there may be another puzzle to put together. This trip is certainly a lesson in Catholicism. If one were seeking to better know God and His call on their lives, Father Serra and other priests may provide examples of people who dedicated their lives to loving God and loving people. We are also finding contrasts between European Catholicism and Native American naturalism. I guess this trip could be considered a pilgrimage of sorts.