Be still. Be still
until the will to
clatter and clamber
up the hill of life’s
with gladness and
placidly to clear-eyed
remembrance of the
level-way – the going
that’s sustained by the
daily choice to stay
within earshot of
singing invitation to
steadying anchor of
sustains and balances
be still. Be still
until the will
meets the Isle
of the ancient
sanctity. Rock of
the aeons within
Eileen, a fellow writer and a new friend, mentioned Rainer Maria Rilke’s glorious circling leitmotif in one of her shared pieces at our writers’ group yesterday. Some of us were reminded (and moved to be reminded) of the Benedictine Brother David Steindl-Rast’s exquisitely expressive rendition – all the more glorious because of David’s profound understanding of the universality of The Great Song – the circling that embraces all of us, and everything.
I used to love to walk to school on sunny Spring mornings. The quieter hours still possessed of the mossy, dewy scents of the night – mildest of breezes softly stirring the trees of the park, and dappled light – already suggesting the new dawns that would awaken the synapses of my ever dawdling, day-dreaming brain.
Yes. I have long thought myself familiar with the colours of the spectrum; that I could name them, that I could assign to each a musical note, that I owned favourite orchestral symphonies of light.
But every new day brings surprises – and the sometimes primal response that mists our sight with tears of yearning, or recognition, or unknowing, or delight, or prayer, or a sense of the most exquisite new openness to the charism, the gift of the Universe offering her provision – the ultimate and eternal grace of Love.
And I was surprised indeed by the glory and the colours I encountered in Barcelona’s great Temple of Light. In La Sagrada Família I mistily knew myself a member of the one great and ‘Holy Family’ – the Universe herself. No single one of us ever fully cognisant of the glories of creation’s rainbow – while each of us is graced with ever-changing experience of hues and colours yet unnamed.
‘Sorry, I’m a bit pushed for time today,’ I said to my friend Robert twenty years or so ago. ‘I’ve got to think of something to say to a large assembly of the Women’s Institute tonight. Their invitation asks me to speak on ‘any subject that takes your fancy’ and I’ve come a bit unstuck.’ ‘Nonsense!’ said Robert (and RSC will know exactly who he is!) – ‘just go and tell them about one or two things that really light up your life.’
So for an hour and a half or so I told a large gathering of women my story about what it had been like to live and study for a month on the very edge of Bethlehem, wandering into Jerusalem in the early mornings to buy my daily newspaper, about the colours of the souks, the sounds of the calls to prayer, the scent and the sound of olive groves, of sunrise, and of sunsets over the Judaean desert, of ancient history, and of contemporary youths singing together in groups outside, in late evening warmth, eating ice cream.
Many further such invitations followed. ‘You speak with stars in your eyes and in the telling’ one kind soul told me after an evening during which I’d thought I’d wittered on too much. How often, since, I have thought of Robert’s ‘tell them about one or two things that really light up your life.’ How very often since then I have noticedthe things that light up my life.And though aware that tonight you won’t be able to hear me, I can nevertheless show you – as quickly or as slowly as you decide – some such recent lights in Barcelona, Cataluñya, España … with stars – and gratitude – in my heart x
My friend Mimi is chief among my encouragers where photo-journalling is concerned. With her usual enthusiasm and generosity of spirit Mimi spoke of enjoying “seeing Barcelona through your eyes.” If my beloved friends and family could only know how often I feel I’m seeing simply allsorts on their behalf as well as my own!
How to describe the extraordinarily vibrant and cosmopolitan city that is Barcelona?
Well: I’ve come to the conclusion that only the presentation of all things colourful comes near to proper description here. From tens of thousands raising their own heartbeats and ours in the Barcelona half marathon this morning, through a breathtaking spectrum of colours throughout the rest of the day, culminating in one of the best flamenco shows I’ve ever seen, heard or felt vibrating in my very bones, Domingo en Barcelona es