This is the time my eyes pop open these days by a conspiracy of the sun and my bladder.
I think that for the first time ever I went to see the Valborg pyre. I don’t care so much about the origin of the tradition – watching the flames consume the fuel against the backdrop of the bright spring evening was all I needed to know. It was such a relaxing and soothing sight that left me with feelings of respect and awe.
I couldn’t help thinking of all the people that have, through time, gathered around campfires to keep warm and safe. In 2016, on 30 April, in a green spot of a Swedish town, kids were running around with marshmallows on twigs. People were orbiting around the huge pile of wood, feeding the flaming patches. I took some pictures with my phone, stepping back once in a while to avoid the rain of ashes. Eventually I walked back home with a sense of completion and with hair smelling of thick smoke.
April weather is as trustworthy and rational as Donald Trump. Right now the sun is shining, warm and bright, but who knows what may be up next?
Crocuses, blue and white anemones have decked lawns and forest paths.
We have done some spring cleaning in our old allotment and shifted to a new spot. Boots were necessary as the soil was beyond muddy. But the corn-flakes in their tin box are as crisp as ever…
My pile of books to read has grown by two…I have started reading “The Architect’s Apprentice” by Elif Shafak. Maybe you know her novel, “The Bastard of Istanbul”?
This weekend I bought myself a second hand sweatshirt with bling. Unnecessary flair on a sporty piece of cloth you may think, but I just see it as added value for the 45 SEK I paid.
That’s all folks. No news are good news as they say.
In his treatise Poetics, Aristoteles defines tragedy as “…an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play; in the form of action, not of narrative; with incidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish its katharsis of such emotions. . . . ”
There is an unbroken link that connects Persephone’s journey to the kingdom of Hades and her return on earth, to the passion of Christ. I think that is why Easter has resonated so strongly with generations and generations of people. It tells the true story of humanity, mortality, pain, loss, renewal and hope. Regardless of how many times it is told, it still has the power to move.
This Sunday I went to Easter mass. When entering the church I noticed the Syrian man sitting at a bench across mine. My visits are occasional and whimsical. His on the other hand seem to be very regular. I once tried to converse with him at the church coffee. Unfortunately, we had no language in common, so I just managed to extract some basic information. He showed me a picture of his wife. I nodded. I introduced him to my mother. He nodded. I asked him if he is orthodox and he nodded again. We smiled and sipped on our teas and coffees and turned around to continue with our conversation.
He must be quite much outside his comfort zone I thought. A refugee in a remote country in the very north of another continent. A middle-eastern man in a bright ornament free protestant church with a female priest singing with an angel’s voice to the bombastic sounds of the ecclesiastic organ. All in an unknown language with obscure phonetics. This time, when mass was over, I saw a woman approaching him and trying to talk to him using her body language and hands to illustrate her questions. It is hopeful when people don’t give up on communication.
This year, the bright week coincided with the bombings in Brussels. My Facebook feed was full of status updates of friends saying they are safe, which is such a relief. Shortly after I had gotten my first job in Brussels 9/11 happened. I remember the contrast of my life advancing against the backdrop of a crazy world.
While reading the news and updates on the people that have lost their lives during the tragic events of last week, I recognised a familiar face in David Dixon, a Briton living in Brussels. I am quite sure that we were yoga classmates back in 2003. Nathalie’s class in Uccle, remember? He seemed like a very kind and positive person David. My thoughts go to the victims, their families and friends.
So yes, Easter is a reflection of life with its miracles and flaws. A chocolate egg wrapped in layers of heavy, unpleasant feelings that you need to peel off before you can bite into its sweetness. Still, despite all the imperfections of human nature, winter is once again transiting into spring. Every time is unique. Every time is once in a lifetime.
Today the sun shone bright. Nothing like yesterday’s grayness. I am so lucky to have the woods around the corner, so in the afternoon I walked out to take in the sprouting greenness of spring.
Just by choosing the direction of my steps I can re-connect to what is real. Last time I took this same route was in the late summer, when berries were ripe.
And on my way back I had a little chat with this ginger beauty, happy Buddha as a cat.
We shook finger and paw and that was it. We are now BFF.
At a Japanese style spa. My sister and I. Steaming water, pine-trees and a lovely room. Fruit and green tea at the lounge. Dinner enjoyed slowly. Early morning sauna yoga, breakfast, meditation and another session of bathing.
As I was washing myself on the little stool before entering the hot tub I remembered the times I had done the same in Japan. Mind and body surrendering to the bucketfuls of water.
And then, on the train back to civilisation I was met with a reality check. Bombings in my old hometown. The city where I have become friends with some of the best people I know. I cannot count the times I have flown in and out of the Brussels national airport. Not to mention the Maalbeek station just around the corner from my old office.
Fortunately my friends are alright. My former colleagues too.
Awful things are happening in the world as I write, and still, the world so often leaves me in awe. If nature and civilisation have created something as perfect as the onsen and the Japanese bath ritual, maybe there is still hope.
Clockwise, otherwise & likewise
a glutenfree vegetarian food lab by a chick who loves exploring flavours, people and places!
Music with passion for the environment
taking a moment, having a coffee, writing down some thoughts