Having moved from New York to California this past summer, I've been hungry for the sorts of places that connect me with the past--real stone walls and formal gardens planted centuries ago.
Today, I visited the Mission at San Juan Capistrano. It was established in 1776 and was one of the first missions in California (if not the first, I really wasn't paying attention to that part). Some of it was destroyed in the earthquake of 1812, but it still ministered to thousands of men and women who came to find their way in California. It still functions as an active church to this day and is one of the top 4th grade field trip destinations in Southern California!
The mission is beyond gorgeous. It has been meticulously maintained, is the place where hundreds of swallows return each spring to have their babies and best of all: it is old and meaningful. When you stand in the courtyard you are standing on the very earth where so much history happened. This place has a heartbeat, a pulse. I will be returning.