How St. Jerome Helps Me a Better Neighbor

There is a stone carving above the front gate of my house that depicts a man and a lion resting together peacefully next to a scroll. As I learned today from my friend Adam, the carving tells the story of St. Jerome who welcomed an injured lion at the gate of his monastery. The other monks fled at the sight of the lion, but St. Jerome carefully removed a thorn from the lion’s paw. The scroll is a reference to St. Jerome’s work as a librarian.

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The Blessing of the Horses

San Miguel de Allende is one celebration after another, especially at this time of year. Last weekend was La Alborada, celebrating San Miguel’s patron saint with fireworks, dancing, parades, music and things I can’t even describe. One of the most beautiful of La Alborada’s events is the Blessing of the Horses and I was there on a horse.

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Cloud House

“Casa Nube” (“Cloud House) by Mexican artist, Beatriz CotaA.

This morning my neighbor, Daisy, came to my gate hoping to get some breakfast, just as she does several times a week. She doesn’t smell very good, and her coat is usually matted on one side. Even though Daisy is a border collie, she was measured as she always is. I opened the gate and she waited quietly while I filled a bowl with kibble. While she ate, I poured bird seed into a couple of bird feeders, and replenished the hummingbird feeder with sugar solution. Well, I thought, I’m becoming one of those grandmother types from my childhood who fed apple slices and vanilla wafers to everyone on the block.

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The Balloons at Calle Torres Landa

When I left my job in San Francisco 8 years ago to travel the world, I told my colleagues that I felt like the boy in “The Red Balloon,” sailing into the clouds to an unknown destination. I left, and what started as a six month adventure became an 8-year lifestyle. Houseless, I’ve made the world my home, with unfamiliar rooms and unpredictable rhythms. It has been a romantic time in my life, learning things about the world I never imagined, and freeing myself of a few of my acquired illusions. I’ve lived my longing.

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The Other Camino

About 1200 years ago, a group of devout Christians found a tomb with the buried remains of the apostle, St. James, in Galicia, a region of northwestern Spain. To honor him, Spanish kings built a magnificent cathedral in Santiago where his remains are buried today. Since then, millions of pilgrims — “peregrinos” — have walked hundreds of miles to Santiago’s cathedral along one of several paths beginning in Portugal, Spain or France. Four peregrinos finished the Camino de Santiago last week — Belle (BFF from the 6th grade), Laura (long time Berkeley friend), and Leticia (Belle’s buddy from her days in Sonoma County). And me.

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Madrid’s Life-Affirming Slaughterhouse

Part of the Klimt installation at the Matadero

Today, I went to a slaughterhouse in Madrid. Called “Matadero” in Spanish, the site is an architectural wonder the city has transformed into an innovative cultural center. https://www.mataderomadrid.org/en/discover Before I arrived, I wondered whether I would feel the ghosts of the center’s past. Instead, I felt joy and gratitude.

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