This beautiful photograph reminds me very much of one I stopped to capture (below) while visiting San Sebastián de la Gomera in January this year. I’ve been wondering what caught the eye of two photographers, in different places, each looking at weathered boards through a lens? And of course I can only speak for one of us!
What I think beautiful in these images is, precisely, the weathering seen in them. Once upon an unidentified time a painter stood before these shutters and they were beautified and made to look like new with shiny coats of paint. But as surely as the new exists in this world so too does ageing – and I contend that the beauty of the history brought to bear on these shutters – sunshine, wind, rain, heat and cold is shining today.
And further, that’s how it is for us. The rosy cheeked beauty of our human infancy is subject to the weathering of our days, and we must learn to recognise the ageing beauty in our unique stories. My friend Lori and I were conversing about the late, great poet John O’Donohue recently. Apparently, John was fond of posing the question ‘what would some of your unlived lives say to each other?’ We agreed that this would be a super discussion starter for a small group of close friends. Perhaps another question, for the same group of friends, might be ‘what would the lives you have lived say to each other?’
There’s history in these shutters, reaching all the way back to the rootedness of trees in the earth, and to the skills of glaziers, joiners and painters. And there’s history, rootedness, the works of craftspeople, and weathered beauty in each of us, too. Were the shutters to be flung open wide, what of life and love might be celebrated, contemplated, learned from, mourned, or otherwise reflected upon, inside?
Often described as the UK‘s Gateway to the World, Southampton has been the ‘diving board’ from which I’ve launched into many a joyful adventure. At 2 degrees Centigrade it’s a chilly morning here – but a golden sunrise on the horizon speaks of warmth and promise … next stop, the Azores. The ‘shape’ and the sheer variety of life on earth illuminate my days aboard MS Borealis – a few days here and there upon miles and miles of open sea lead to soul-widening new encounters. Edinburgh, Lakeland, family and beloved friends, all – in some sense – travel with me, so the familiar is at the heart of all that I am. But so, too, is the unfamiliar, all that my heart, soul, mind and body unknowingly aspire to, even in the Now-ness of this single moment. And I sometimes find myself imagining even greater ‘Gateways to the World’ and an eternal ‘vessel’ possessed of limitless capacity for Love’s eternal voyaging …
Afternoon update: things are looking hopeful for dinner time 😉
Evolution is divinity at work We are nature made aware of itself Science is the most spiritual pursuit To learn the patchwork of existence Is to understand ourselves
Brianna Wiest Salt Water, p.71
With that thought I set off on my morning walk, in company with millions of others around the world who, in their daily lives, watch their awareness – reaching out into the unknown, glad to know, somewhere deep and primal within, that they are not, and never will be, alone …