There are places in the world where I feel more whole, places where I am suddenly deeply aware of the strong flow of life, of energy, of spirit around and through me. Pausing for a moment under the canopy of ancient camphor trees in Kirstenboch gardens to gaze up and far to the surrounding mountains which draw my imagination to their summits and beyond, I feel at peace and enlivened at exactly the same moment.
A day later, browsing through my photographs, I stop again at this view and am surprised to discover my memory presents me with an image I captured in the colossal cathedral of Toledo last summer.
The window to heaven in the highest point of the cathedral’s roof.
What’s the connection?
Why are these two images linked in my mind?
There’s the resonance of the imagery, each with its dark, ragged frame around a bright, distant light. But there’s something else too….something of a feeling, that feeling of smallness, enfolded in a greater something, whilst drawn up beyond my self to the universal.
In the cathedral, I didn’t feel at peace. I encountered image after image of suffering, torture and death represented in the lives of the saints. The immensity of the stone structure of the building with its enormous, ornate golden sculptures weighed heavily on me. So, when I stumbled on the window to heaven it seemed to provide some release, some lightening of the spirit and the heart. A few moments later I caught sight of sunlight and trees through an open door and delighted in the cloistered garden it led to.
Under the camphor trees I had none of that heaviness. I felt more cocooned, welcomed by Nature. But then suddenly, here again was an opening which lifted me up and out of my self.
Moments of bliss.