Arizona #9: A Monastery Visit Leads to A Spiritual Grounding Experience

Jasmine Baldwin ’20 reflects on her visit to the San Xavier del Bac Monastery.

On Friday we traveled to the San Xavier del Bac Monastery on the Tohono O’odham Native American Reservation. When arriving, we were lucky enough to receive an unplanned tour, given we didn’t have a reservation during the Monastery’s busiest tourist season. The San Xavier del Bac Monastery dates back to the 1600’s. It started off as a small church with missionaries sent to convert the Native Americans to Catholicism. King Ferdinand began to suspect the missionaries of becoming more loyal to the Pope than the King and demanded that the missionaries return to Spain, but many of them were old and most likely didn’t survive the journey. In the 1800’s, Franciscans built the church that stands today and many Native American influences can be seen in the church’s art.

Being in the monastery helped me ground my spiritual self within my body. I’m a Christian, and sitting in the pews to pray gave me the opportunity to process all of my encounters and experiences on the trip. In the midst of this humanitarian crisis in the Americas, I thought about where my place is in this larger picture. It’s easy to wish that I could change everything over night, but the more challenging path is to make a difference where I can. Whether that is educating my community back home in Tampa, or encouraging productive dialogues and organizing events in the Deerfield Academy community. Whatever I end up doing, I will make sure that it helps people gain back their natural senses of humanity and empathy by humanizing humans. We all share the same blood; therefore there is no reason to hate our neighbors for we are much more similar than we think.

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