Friday, December 30, 2011

Foto Friday - A few Missions



Ya just gotta love being able to drive a few hours away from home on a mission . . .
and wind up at a Mission! Not just one, but several!!

One of the things I love about Texas is its diverse landscape where you can go from the canyons of the Texas panhandle in the Coastal Plains through the Mountains and basins and end up at the Gulf Coastal Plains. Of course that will take you an eternity of driving to get through it and in all the twenty years of
living here I have yet to have seen even a fraction of it!!
One of my favorite places we have been though is where the Spanish, during the 18th century, built a series of missions along the San Antonio river which later became the foundation they would use to build the city. And it's the largest group of missions in North America, each one with it's own gravity-fed irrigation system.

When I was in school I really, really, disliked history! And now I'm wishing I had paid a bit
more attention to it as I'm finding the history of people and their cultures fascinating. Just to roam about
where others have been, to stand where history was not only made but is still preserved today after more
than 250 years is just exciting! To open and walk through the very same doors, to stand on the very same ground of those that came before us, the ones that layed the foundation for where we are now makes me more aware of the connections we all share. The ones we make now that will affect the foundations we lay for the future, not just our own but for others. 

The first Mission we arrived at was the Mission Concepcion, the oldest unrestored stone church in America and probably because they chose to build it on a foundation of bedrock. Construction began in 1731 and took a little over 20 years to build. There are twin bell towers, outside walls that are 45" thick, and original frescoes that are over 250 years old that can be found in the sacristy. The outside of the mission, well most of the missions, had colorful geometric designs that are now no longer visible and have worn off and faded with time. I was a bit disappointed to not be able to get a full view of the front of this one as they had it blocked off for some reason.

This is part of a courtyard to a side entrance into the Sanctuary.



Next we made our way to the San Juan Mission. Again, the front was blocked off and and the church was closed possibly for repairs? I don't know much about this one other than it was a self-sustaining community where Indian artisans prepared hides and made tools and cloths. They also, outside the walls of the mission had orchards and gardens and in surrounding farmland raised sheep and cattle that allowed them to survive as long as they did in their later years.










Lastly, was the largest of the missions built on the banks of the San Antonio river. It was built only several miles from one of the most famous missions, The Alamo, and as an active parish they hold mass every Sunday. It's known as the "Queen of the Missions" for being the largest and most beautiful of the five missions.



We saw this mission 2 years ago, and it is just as remarkable seeing it for second time as it was the first. And this time as I am not shooting in automatic I was paying more a lot more attention to the light and shadows of things. In fact, it seemed to be another recurring *theme* and one I will share with you soon. ; )


Are these not the most magnificent set of doors, and that carving! I heard one of the park rangers say that
it's one of the finest carvings in all of Colonial North America. One of the reasons is because the stone found in the area is much more pliable and the carvers from Mexico were able to get quite creative in their designs elements. In the collage below is the famous "Rose Window", La Ventana de Rosa, and is found on the outside of the sacristy. On the right is the same window only looking out from the sacristy. The bottom left image is what is left of the colorful geometric patterns that would have been found on the entire exterior of the mission.



This is the breathtaking view through those beautifully carved front doors!




And through doors on the left at the front of the church, that say, "Blessed Sacrament Chapel, Respect and Silence", is the sacristy and where all the lite candles represent someones request for an answered prayer.


{shoot, edit, submit}

The bell tower, that sang every 15 minutes while we were there.


And remember the irrigation system I mentioned earlier? It's a 270 year old system and is what powers this grist mill that can grind up to 600-800 lbs of flour a day if it had to. It wasn't being operated this week, but I have been able to watch the flour fall into the bucket. Talk about technology that withstands the test of time. Makes ya wonder if we are really getting smarter doesn't it?



And this, this is the view as I turned and looked back as I walked to the enormous wooden doors that the park rangers were waiting at - waiting for me so they could close - yes as usual I was the last one out.
Do you ever just feel like ya didn't have enough time somewhere? I know I had been there before, but I just didn't feel like I was able to explore every nook and cranny and that perhaps I missed something.



In thinking about these missions, and how they have been preserved through history some over 250 years, I am reminded of how we all leave our mark or not on this world. Some of the very reason these missions have survived as long as they have is because they were built on solid foundation, on bedrock, but they weren't just built physically strong. They were also built on a spiritual foundation and with faith and not to build a palace but to build a community.

 So in reflecting and thinking about the new year ahead, I'm not starting over, I'm continuing. I'm continuing in that forward motion to hopefully build a foundation for what is to come in the future. Last year as I unpacked my bags in acceptance (here), it became the groundwork for my journey to discovery this year. 
I didn't do it on physical strength alone, but also with faith. And without even knowing it, we all share connections that are important in each other's journeys  - together we are building communities and just maybe someone will stand on the same ground that we have stood and ponder the same questions about those who have gone before them. I don't know about you but this gives me much to think about this next year. And I can't help but be a little excited about that!!

I look forward in this next year to continuing and making new connections.
Wishing you all a safe and Happy New Year!!

Love, Kim
XO








Also sharing with Tuesday Around the World at Communal Global



    Photobucket"

28 comments:

Lori said...

Oh wow! These are so beautiful, breathing is right.

Lori

Kathy said...

Beautiful post Kim, both in thought and photo. Living in Philadelphia I am so use to seeing buildings and structures that have withstood the test of time, that I kind of take it for granted. Which is one of the reasons I so love visiting Europe where "old" is REALLY "old", haha. But for the exact same reasons you mentioned, just thinking about who has stepped where I am stepping now. Your post is a reminder that I need to take a step back and appreciate what I have before my eyes here and that I don't need to travel abroad to experience history (shhhhhh, don't tell my Better Half I said that! haha).

I REALLY want to see missions sometime tho. It is a totally foreign design and culture to anything we have here. And as your photos prove, so very beautiful!

Happy New Year to YOU...may you keep moving in a forward motion.

Kathy

Jenni said...

That was a beautiful post Kim. You captured those lovely old buildings so well.I could just imagine people living and working there..how peaceful a life it would have been. May 2012 be a wonderful year for you and yours.
jenni

http://livingatthewhiteheadszoo.blogspot.com/ said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing your lovely photos.

Betty Manousos@ Cut and Dry said...

thank you for these breathtaking shots!

wishing you and yours a happy new year and the best for 2012!

Georgia said...

Wow! Love your work!! I’m hosting a new photo challenge beginning tomorrow. Hope you stop by and enter. Please visitSimply Silver
for details. Thanks!

deb duty said...

Oh wow!! Your photos are amazing! And what gorgeous places! I would love to visit them too.

Nancy @ A Rural Journal said...

You captured some iconic structures -- and the history is really quite interesting to me. Love the photo of the candles. Very moving, Kim.

Happy New Year's to you and your family, dear!

Deanna said...

What a beautiful post, Kim. I too love visiting old missions and was fortunate to do just that on my trips to Santa Fe and California this past year. It is amazing the feeling of strength and strong faith when touring these lovely structures. Thank you for sharing these beautiful images and your contemplative thoughts. Happy New Year to you and yours!!

vicki said...

INCREDIBLE!! These photos are totally - WOW!! I would love a day here- taking these pictures would be fabulous! You absolutely captured the true essence of this incredible place. Im in awe--

Happy New Year!
Vicki

Kathryn Dyche Dechairo said...

Gorgeous pics Kim. Wow 45" thick walls, how's that for being sound proof! Wishing you and your family an amazing New Year.

Seeing Each Day said...

Not that I'd want to, but there's no faulting any one of these shots - thank you so much for this virtual tour. If I had to pick one photo - I'd choose the candle one - it's so deep and radiates emotion - and in my opinion brings all the photos in this post together, if that make sense. Happy New Year to you.

Emily said...

Beautiful shots! I love the collages and that straight on shot of the mission. Thank you for sharing!

tinajo said...

Hi, just found my way over from A Rural Journal - these pics are beautiful! Have a great beginning of 2012! :-)

tiarastantrums said...

it's so very cold here today and it looks so warm by you!

Branson said...

I have looked at this post a few times now, but am just now commenting. So many amazing photos! Wow. And that candle one? I am in love with that photo. Seriously. In love. :) Beautiful work, my friend!

Marvett Smith said...

I have to say that I never enjoyed history when I was in school either. Your images are wonderful though. Everything looks different through the lens of a camera. Even history. :)

Tamar SB said...

These are awesome!! I just love old churches and cathedrals! They're stunning!

Life with Kaishon said...

What an absolutely beautiful place! WOW! I love that you are so close to all of that history. Fantastic! : )

I just saw your comment to all of us at Communal Global about not being able to copy the little picture. If you come over to my blog, Life with Kaishon, you should be able to copy it there. I don't know who made our blog right click disabled...that is so annoying.

Thanks for letting us know. Love, Becky

lisa said...

Kim, it must have been so wonderful to see and photograph these.

Like you, I wish I'd paid far more attention to history in school! :-(

Sylvia said...

I enjoyed following your visit to this incredible plase. You have captured the glory of these missions perfectly . I so love the symbolism that you find in them and the connection with the new year. Your photos are amazing !
Thank you for your visit and kind comment.Have a biright 2012 .

Gina Kleinworth said...

Oh how I absolutely love visiting missions. How beautiful!!!!!!

Rosie@leavesnbloom said...

What a lovely selection Kim. I'm so used to being surrounded by the old here living in Scotland.

I've seen a few missions over the internet in the past year or so and they look like fascintating places to visit.

Pieces of Sunshine said...

Wonderful photos and story Kim. It will be interesting to look back on blogging connections and impacts also as we journey on, being encouraged and inspired by others around the globe, mostly "others" we will never meet in real life.

Southern Gal said...

Hey Lady. I followed you right back. ;)

Beautiful photos as usual.

Christina Klas said...

Soooo much history here! I need to make it a point - next time I travel - go somewhere where there are stories to be told through the architecture... Beautiful !

Andrea Dawn said...

I nominated you for a KREATIV Blogger award . . . your work is quite stunning.

Dina @TheseNotions said...

I've lived in San Antonio my entire life...and went on too many school field trips to see the missions to even try to count.

I can honestly say that your photos have made me "re-appreciate" them.

So glad to have found you...I am so glad to be a new follower!

:)

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