Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Low Road, continued

as seen along a country roadRemember how I said I knew I was meant to be on the low road, let me tell you why. There are quintessential photos of Tuscany - ones you see in every calendar: the white chapel, a stand of cypress, a rolling landscape with hay bales. Various photographers have captured them and to me, they are as sacred as any fresco or duomo. After leaving the country chapel I continued my walk along the dusty dirt road, still looking for the cemetery. I passed a wooded area and suddenly came upon an open field, my own field of dreams. I still do not know why I reacted as I did, but I spread my arms open wide, looked up to the heavens and my eyes filled with tears. It was truly a sacred experience, the kind that Phil Cousineau writes aboutfield of dreams in his fine, fine book, The Art of Pilgrim-
. This was where I was supposed to be, this is what I was meant to see.

When people ask me what the most memorable part of my trip was, this is what comes to mind, but I cannot yet explain it. It had something to do with order, with natural beauty. Something to do with being able to step from reality into a storybook, a scene only dreamed about heretofore.

It was an artist's field ~ pattern, color, repetition, texture ~ solitude and serenity, what the 17th century Japanese poet Basho calls "a glimpse of the underglimmer," something deeply real. Cousineau says that "every traveler can transform any journey into pilgrimage with a commitment to finding something personally sacred along the road." (I am just now reading his book, yet I unknowingly traveled as if I already had taken every word to heart.) He says that one of our deepest longings is the need for sacred beauty. I had found my sacred beauty.

Yesterday I rode the METRO down to Dupont Circle in DC to meet a friend for lunch. I grew up in this city, traveled its streets many times. But yesterday as I came up out of the subway tunnel, I saw the city as if new. I noticed details I had glazed over before. I was there with new eyes. Joseph Brodsky says, "beauty is a by-product of ordinary things." You can be a traveler anywhere, on your own street, in your own town. Sacred beauty is waiting for you, sometimes along a low road less traveled.


Cindy said...

What a wonderful picture !!! Thank you for sharing it.

nina said...

twice now you've mentioned having tears in your eyes. this makes me happy, and maybe now you will understand my overwhelming good emotions and tears i had when we travelled together (and will quit ribbing me ;)
am really enjoying your italy posts...x

Mary lin said...

The pics are beautiful!! Thanks for sharing them!

lizzieb said...

Your joy and response brought tears to my eyes! Such wonderful pictures...I have so enjoyed your trip diary!
Liz Berg

Anonymous said...

what beautiful photo's Lesley, sometimes it is the more simple things that bring us so much pleasure.

Sharon said...

I am reading a book by Deepak Chopra and he says that when the rhythms of your body-mind are in synch with nature's rhythms, the universe flows through you and you experience joy and ecstasy. Thank you for sharing your Tuscany scene. ~Sharon

wendy in New Zealand said...

so much of our everyday life is about repetition that we forget to take the time to look beyond it.
But out there is beauty for us all, not hidden, just waiting for us to lift our eyes and see!!

Plain Jane said...

Field of Awe indeed! gorgeous photo!! and a lovely post. thank you.

jblack designs said...

What a lovely post. The photos are amazing. I especially like the idea of re-seeing--or maybe it's seeing for the first time. Anywhere. Here. There. Maybe even ourselves.