Thursday, December 22, 2011

I love the way nature in all its surprises
makes me feel breathless and expanded in soul.

Two nights ago
was a such a night..
I went upstairs to relax in front of the television
but never got to turn it on.
Instead I sat on my little deck and watched the sky..

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Summer Rains..

Summer rains..

and the plants are loving it.

All things green

seem extra perky

and growing fast.

The elfin hats of the agapanthus are bursting

and the strawberries
are ripe and lush

like fat, red velvet cushions
studded with gold
and full of juice
that is surely the nectar of the gods.

I bite in and the licky red juice dribbles on my lips..

as I listen
to the velvety plip plop
of the magic brew
on the stove..

Strawberry, Mint and Pepper Jam
for some future time

when remembering
is a cheering thing to do.

The rains have been kind to us.
I am so sorry for Nelson and Collingwood
and any place where the rains have been far too much!
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Friday, December 16, 2011

St Peter's. Rome.

Josie and I find ourselves outside St Peter's
when we wander from the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel.

As if we haven't seen enough marvels for one day,
we move into this huge basilica..
Basilica Papale di an Pietro in Vatican.

There is the Holy Door
and straight away my catholic upbringing is before me.
I know this door from my childhood!
My mother had an old  78 record with the Opening Ritual of The Holy Door.
How she came by it I have no idea.
This door is bricked over on the inside, and during a Jubilee Year
the Holy Father knocks on the door, three times..and in my childish belief,
the bricks come tumbling down.

I stand there looking at it and feel such a connection with this place.

This church is enormous.
I think of that 18 year old girl who became a nun,
and think how she would have responded to this place.
At 68 I am a bit like St Peter's itself.
The years have added layer upon layer of architectural style to this church,
and I have layer upon layer of learning and understanding
that my belief is quite different from that 18 year old...
(my own physical 'architectural style' has not endured as magnificently I might add!)

but however I express my belief..
my Catholic self is always there.

To grasp the size of this place I notice the people in the distance are so small.
Note the size of the person standing far away to the left below the statue
compared to those standing near.

Bernini's baldochino (canopy) over the altar is thirty metres tall
and yet looks dwarfed by the church.

Michelangelo's Pieta is another familiar icon from my past.
Had I visited at 18 I would surely have kissed the Christ's foot,
worn smooth by the kisses of Pilgrims.
It is behind glass now, since it was attacked and damaged by some mad person.

Bernini's baldochino, that stands over the altar, is like a processional canopy
with a beautiful fabric fringe around the top, but all in bronze.
There are vines and bees on the twisting pillars
and I wonder at their symbolism.
I've read later, they are the symbols of the Pope of the time.
I prefer my own interpretation.

Above the canopy is the enormous dome.

Again, the size is hard to take in
and it's beauty is astonishing.
I can only marvel at its creation.

Behind the altar is the Chair of Peter, and the stunning
sculpture that represents the heart of this place.
To me it always looked like 
 a monstrance that holds the simplest thing..
...Jesus held up the bread and said.. This is my body..

and the beautiful symbol of
The Holy Spirit..

Beneath the altar lies the Tomb of St Peter.
Tradition has it that Peter was martyred during the reign of Nero
and buried on this site.

The statue of St Peter also has a foot worn smooth from
the kisses of pilgrims.
I join the queue for the 18 year old me,
and reverently kiss Peter's foot.

I am more astonished to come across another tomb.
Here lies the body of Pope John XXIII.
Bodies on show seems to me an Italian thing.
It was to me a complete surprise.
I feel quite overcome.
This is the pope we all loved.
The pope who said we must 'throw open the windows
and let in some fresh air ..'
into the ancient church,
to bring it into the 20Th century.
He called the Vatican Council in 1962,
the year that 18 year old entered the Sisters of Mercy.

It was a time of huge change.
The 18 year old changed too.
The thirteen years I lived at the heart of the church
in religious life,
were wonderful, growing, learning years.

Today I do not find the church as open to change as I expected it to be.

I look at the young student priests and wonder
at their response to this place today.

To visit St Peter's
has been an extraordinary experience.
I am so grateful for the amazing heritage that enriches my life.

This is a homecoming indeed,
like visiting one's birthplace
and realizing how
attached and unattached one can be at the same time.

Outside we are enchanted by the Swiss Guards
and think back to the Sad Lion monument in

St Peter's.

You will always be a part of me,
no matter what I believe,
or how I express my belief.
That 18 year old
is still me.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A little bit of doodle madness..

One thing I have learnt
is to keep on.

If at first a book does not please or is hard to understand,
I keep reading and often they become the most memorable.

Some of my greatest adventures have been well
outside my comfort zone.

So too with doodling.
Keep on with a drawing that appears a failure
and something always comes of it..
however crazy.
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Monday, December 12, 2011

A walk through The Vatican, Rome.

We are in Rome. St Peter's, The Vatican.
The familiar holy saints, each with a bird atop.

Here is the entrance to the Vatican Museum

and there is the familiar dome of St Peter's.

The work of art in the Vatican garden is
like the mystery of our world and our existence.
It both reflects and distorts what is around us
and wakens us to see differently.

I wonder how to see
in this place...

the grand stairways

and the rich treasures from antiquity.

I am fascinated by the overly bosomed goddess
among the ancient treasures.

She is Diana (Roman) or Artemis (Greek). 'She is the Earth herself,
whose mountains are breasts and her body is a dwelling place for all living creatures.'
I am intrigued with the concept of Goddess/Virgin that we meet everywhere.
I remember back to the Buddhist Monastery in Hongkong where we came across
A Goddess of Mercy.
To me there is an awe inspiring diversity of belief in the world.
Everything I look at is an attempt to explain the in-explicable..

I gaze at the beautiful marble floors

and the painted ceilings,

ornate and gilded.

Everything so rich in symbols

or, like the fabulous tapestries,  telling historical

and biblical stories.

There are fascinating ancient maps of the old world
that remind me we live with a different vision of the universe today.
We no longer fear dropping off the edge of the world,
nor do we believe the sun travels around the earth.

The Vatican Museum

leaves me gasping at the splendour
of the architecture and art.

I did not take photographs in the Sistine Chapel.
I was happy the visitors were quiet and thoughtful there
and I was content to sit and gaze in silence at Michelangelo's masterpiece.

I pondered on the meaning of it all
and all I can think is how little we know
and I feel humble when I see our human attempts at explaining the meaning of life
and the universe.

Maybe we get lost in our explanations
until the explanations become more important than
the mystery
they attempt to explain.

Control and power seem ever present in our world...
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