09/28/2015 09:34 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Pope Francis: Man of Magical Moments


"And don't forget to pray for me," says The People's Pope

I am so not religious. I was forced to go to church on Sundays as a child, but I could not reconcile the teachings I heard with the world I lived in.

I got to know Jesus as an historical figure and the subject of a college course I took mostly out of curiosity one semester. I'm genuinely fond of and fascinated by him. I think he was brave, shrewd, charismatic and light years ahead of his time intellectually, spiritually and "politically."

In fact, I don't think a lot of the people who claim to believe in him fully understand the man or any of the few acts and words actually attributed to him in The Bible and other sources. I suspect the moments some call miracles, however they were accomplished, were designed to capture hearts and souls in the hopes that a few minds would catch up later.

So he knew he'd have to razzle dazzle 'em, to give 'em something to talk about. And we're still talking--and arguing--about it to this day.

So I get it. I do. And for the past few days, I've admittedly envied those who truly believe in it. Pope Francis, the so-called "people's pope," made me yearn to be one of them.

Now, I must hasten to add that I found the canonization of Junipero Serra truly disconcerting. Having married into a large Native American family for whom this was a huge insult and disappointment, I can't ignore their history and very strong opposition to that choice.

That said, I still saw something rare and precious in the humble man America fell in love with this week. Something words cannot explain or describe. Actually, it's what I saw in the faces of the people watching him fly by in motorcades, or watching, rapt, at masses and celebrations that kept me in front of the television for hours.

As his somber, silent gaze at the 9/11 Memorial reminded us, we live in a dangerous and often disheartening world. But the joy and hope and yearning and wonderment in the eyes of those he reached out to touched me deeply.

I mean, if you heard some of the female reporters squealing and admitting they couldn't control their emotions when he walked into a room, you know what I'm talking about. In fact, seeing Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer freaking out like fan boys as the pope stepped out of that little Fiat a few feet away was the best TV I've seen in ages.

"Stop looking at the monitors! He's right there! Turn around!" Cooper cried. And I swear, I laughed 'til I cried.

Not sure what this has to do with religion per se, but I want us all to feel like that more often. I want us to live in a world that feels like that more often.

And you know, maybe that does have something to do with religion. I remember how John Lennon, back in his Transcendental Meditation days, said that truly living your beliefs was the best way to make others want to know more about those beliefs.

Maybe he was on to something. Pope Francis gives us lots of magical moments. Just like Someone Else I mentioned earlier who knew how to "razzle dazzle" 'em.

Here are just a few that I will never forget.









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