A strange thing happened last night, the night of the day Pope John Paul died. I returned home from my yoga teacher training, exhausted and a little uncomfortable in my skin, and couldn't stop seeing visions of the Pope in the periphery, both with my eyes opened and closed.
Now, I wasn't particularly moved by the passing of the pontiff. I am not Catholic, wasn't raised Catholic, and have no desire to be Catholic, so it wasn't that kind of guilt-ridden haunt. In fact, and most certainly unfairly, I hear of the Pope's long-term illness and passing, and immediately think, "maybe this will make room for a slightly less sexist, homophobic, dogmatic individual to step into the coveted Cloth."
However, at the same time I think about how much he and I don't have in common - and the list is long: his stubborn, unwavering pro-life stance, his antiquated notion about women in the priesthood, his rampant anti-gay pontification, his virtual disregard for Central American Catholics and their pleas for help in their social justice efforts during too many bloody civil wars (too many of them aligned with seemingly Marxist revolutionary groups), his wholesale rejection of Liberation Theology, picking and choosing which military conflicts he would use his influence to condemn, the punitive wrath he wielded when anyone disagreed with him, etc, etc, -I remember that when he visited Cuba, he publicly scolded the US for the inhumane nature of the embargo. He also stepped into the Palestinian/Israeli crisis without a Catholic agenda, seemingly preaching nothing more than peace. He was apparently an avid outdoors/sportsman who, in the early days of his priesthood, would take youth on hiking, canoeing, and camping trips in hopes of making a connection via the natural world. And, he let Mother Theresa do her slightly more progressive thing without public condemnation.
I guess there are a few areas of common ground on which the Pope and I could have had an intelligent conversation. Maybe he was passing through just to remind me of this.