MWD: Beginning

My Month of Written Devotion is for the Spirit of the Santa Clara Valley


I don’t know that the Santa Clara Mission is the center of the Santa Clara Valley, but it is most surely Her spiritual, beating heart. Somehow, growing up, learning to drive, wandering as an adult, I always managed to go around, rarely through the city of Santa Clara. Maybe I just wasn’t ready. Maybe we instinctively avoided it.

The Mission is Her Heart, but that is not to say that She is Catholic, per se. Santa Clara is not St. Clare of Assisi, after all. They are merely syncretized.

When I first arrived on the Santa Clara University campus, I felt intensely… strangely… welcome. Suddenly my world, my home, my Valley seemed full of Spirit in a way that it had not been before. Everywhere I looked the name echoed “Santa Clara”. County, Valley, City, Mission, University, even Cemetery. I felt as though I were a stone dropped into a still pool watching concentric layers outline around me.

At first I felt obliged to cultivate some kind of relationship with the Saint. I researched Her. I gazed curiously at Her statues and portraits. I learned Her iconography and legends. I read Her words. She seemed peaceful, pleased enough to greet me.

But the voice that resounded through my bones was not Hers.

Then I thought, I am not Catholic. I’m not even Episcopalian anymore. I am an Umbandista, though, and perhaps that will do. Who among the Powers we honor are syncretized to Santa Clara? Among the Orixa I found no one.

Among the Loa I found Ayizan, but no, Ayizan is still Ayizan to me, and besides, She is more often syncretized to another.

Then I found Clemezin, who simply is St. Clare as a Loa. That worked a little better. I’d intuited Her colors before I found them written. I had candles I could work with.

But the voice that resounded through my blood was not Hers.

I wandered the Cemetery, seeking answers from the Ancestors within the land. They, too, greeted me cheerfully.

But Their voices were not the voice that resounded in my heart.

Finally, one day, I looked UP, across the Valley to the hills and the mountains and the baylands, and I realized, SHE is HERE. Or rather… HERE IS SHE.

Santa Clara is one of Her names, certainly, and so She can not help but be syncretized to Her namesake, but Her truest name that has not been lost to cruel history is simply “The Valley of Heart’s Delight”.

I call Her Lady Clare, when I must give Her a name, if only because “My Heart’s Delight” sounds vague to uninitiated ears.


P.S. Read Lon’s “Beginning”! 😀