The past week has begun the tough task of restoring my faith in my fellow humans.
For years, I have had a feeling of skepticism, even cynicism, when someone said, ďI am a man (woman) of the people.Ē
The next move, at least in this part of the state, was almost always falling into partisan lock-step with urban folks who didnít even know where the San Luis Valley is, much less care about its needs.
Sometimes, a person from rural Colorado trying to work with urbanites, some of whom are newcomers here, may feel like a single tree left standing after the forest burned. Eventually, the void is filled with new life that†can go deep into the areaís roots or it can rise to the heavens.
Thatís why I instinctively like the new Pope, leader of the massive Catholic Church.
I think he knows that heís different from the ones who went before. He is that lone tree who always remained true to his beliefs and the vows he took entering the priesthood.
Yet, in spite of all the admiration, worship and applause, he has a sense of humor, or at least it seems so from news reports.
He isnít really old, as some of his fellows were, but he also isnít young.
One TV report, cut all too short, shows his human side. An aging woman reports that she was his first love, but he chose Christ and the church instead.
No one can fault following a path set by the Lord.
He has also chosen to wear his own old, comfy shoes rather than the handcrafted red Pradas he was offered.
The man doesnít want his feet to hurt, you have to like that.
When he went to check out of the place in Rome that he had shared with his fellow cardinals until he was elected as their leaders, he didnít take a limo, he rode the bus with them. He got his belongings together, carried his own bags and checked out, paying his own tab, then went back to the Vatican by common carrier.
Newscasters, left aghast, began seeking something, anything, that would show a chink in his human armor.
Whole crews rushed to his native Argentina to find out what he was about and learned that was the way he had lived throughout his priesthood. As Archbishop and Cardinal of Buenos Aires, he maintained his own apartment, cooked his own food and walked among the people, even refusing the offer of a Vatican car and staff. He visited the poor and aided the sick.
Finally, a truly Christ-like Pope.
As a Jesuit priest, he had taken a vow of humility and poverty and, when elected to his churchís highest office, he chose to be known as Francis I, becoming the first Pope ever with that name, in honor of another pastor who lived simply and communed with the inhabitants of our great planet.
Donít call him ďPope Frank.Ē He may laugh about it ó Iím sure he will ó but call him Pope Francis in honor of one who loved all Godís creatures, not just those who are Catholic, Latino, well-behaved, pictures of health or wealthy. Christ didnít die just for them, but for the sins of all humanity.
Itís appropriate, I think, that this new pope is beginning his reign almost at Easter time.
Taking the helm of the Vatican, with its great wealth, he may be briefly overwhelmed, but I would expect to soon see him walking among the people, even bathing the feet of lepers and people with AIDS, touching the hands of saints and sinners alike and accepting all into the fold.
Considering the men ó and women ó ďof the peopleĒ I have known throughout my life, only a few have proven genuine, many have been in it for money, prestige or personal glory, not truly for the people, though they have been helpful in climbing the social ladder.
I am hoping the U.S. Congress will accept Pope Francis and follow his lead. Walk among the people, listen to them and work with them.†
Getting along with oneís fellow humans is honoring Godís creatures. Think about it.