The morning breeze swept into the hallway like an unseen thing that crept up my legs as soon as I opened the main door and I shivered from it. The wintery sun seems far away beyond the hills, perfectly hidden behind the dark forest and the many jagged pine trees that looks like sharp Egyptian pyramid leaving some trails of black shadows on the moist ground, looking like hundred of dark monsters that just tear their way out to claw the resident’s houses down there. But the skyline was such a fantastic scene to watch; the sunlight glow across the whole sky, spreading its golden light of red, orange and violet-blue, giving a wonderful contrast that matched the silky clouds before the sun was finally rise above the top of the nearby abbey. And when the sun did finally comes out in the sky, the golden light of yellowish gold exploded across the land in an instant like honey, lighting up every dark corner and reach the river below as it greets the nature with a Morning wish and welcoming us with Another New Day.
I just returned from the forest up the hill – did jogging for an hour or so, but it felt like heaven to walk the wet earth when the first few birds greeted me with their early morning songs and the white grey mist formed among the green grass, creeping between the trees and waved its way to the near thick bushes, and there was not a sight of any other human being – except for the cows and sheeps walking slowly in the far away fields. I was for a moment in a trance mesmerizing by the beauty of this early morning scene, to be lost for awhile in another time in another world, and in another age of timeless space; so beautiful like the paintings itself. If only I could paint this in here … so that I would then never forget how this morning may look like. And this is to me, so magically beautiful.
At this time, I realised it that it is nearly six o’clock in the morning as the chiming bell of my giant clock hanging above the fireplace in the living room startles me. I glanced up and check on my own wrist watch at the same time before decided to go upstairs.
I am an early riser, so to say, and it was seldom that I ever wakes up late, except somewhere else rather than at my home. I like the feeling to walk in the quiet house when everybody is still dreaming and funny it was in such stillness I can hear clearly everyones’ breathing – soft snores of little babies and the humming sounds of few boats that passed by the river below. So distant and yet so near, sounded like a singing mechanical whistling down the calm water. I could even watched this from the windows upstairs, slowly following the boats as if stalking them with my eyes, studying the rhythm of the river dancing with the boats.
For awhile, after I am satisfied with the pretty and peaceful view, I check on Andrew who was still sleeping like a baby, snoring off softly in the room as I took a quick peek; smiling at the sight of his mouth gapping like a breathless goldfish. I drew back slowly to close behind the bedroom door as silently as I could and crept away to the children’s room and saw to it that they too, are snoring – much louder than their father, I laughed quitely at sight of this because I think children are really cute creatures to watch. Peacefulness and such beauty that I cannot really describe in words are written on their faces – whatever it is that they may have been dreaming at the moment, I pray that the dreams are pleasant as the heaven itself.
I escaped to the bathroom after that to changed to a new fresh clothes, throw away the jogging suit into the washing machine and went downstairs.
In the kitchen, without delay I prepared a flask of black Marrocian coffee, a flask of Lipton tea, a giant pot of hot cocoa for the kids; then spreading a new clean table-cloth which is of dark colour between blue and green with tiny yellow daisies design on it, then filled the round shape rattan basket with croissant and numerous other types of German bread too; the butter comes next, a strawberry marmalade, orange marmalade & blueberry marmalade; comes along the few slices of fresh tomatoes and cucumber in a square light green plate, one small plate of salami and a bowl of eight boiled eggs. After the arrangement of six white plates, six silver knives, a few yellow napkins to be put on the side, six tiny forks, the six cups and the six glasses (not to forget a bottle of fresh milk), then finally me settle down on my favourite stool which is facing a little to the leftside of the kitchen’s glass door facing the garden – I can start my breakfast – with joy – and alone. Now, sipping the coffee while I enjoy the view of my quiet garden, watching two tiny white butterflies hovering above the roses and listening to the silent sounds of autumn wind, I was thinking about my village, the jungle and the river.
An hour time passed by, then the sounds of small feet running upstairs, I smiled to myself because I knew now my angels had arise. (Can I say this? Arise?) One of them is grumbling about the other because they are making too much noise when Papa is still sleeping, but then I heard a loud and merry morning greetings roared in the living room into the kitchen. I called to them and all came running like little puppies, happily to see their mother there. I was wondering if children have tails like dogs, they would have waving their tails so eagerly and excited when they are happy. After the hugging and the kisses, the kids obediently sitting in their stools, with hands reaching out for everything on the table, I watched them eating with such joy and started a conversation about their school, the friends, the stupid friends, the smart teachers, the annoying teachers, about the school toilet not having proper toilet papers, the tennis club, the horse riding, about their hair and wanting new hair cuts and about some things they want to do for today.
I would just leaned back, drink my fourth cup of coffee (I noticed that I am starting to abuse my bladder with it! ) listening intently to them and asking few questions when things are not clear and sharing opinions of which they appreciated because they had asked me on it. I am proud somehow that my girls trusted me with their heart on anything and almost everything; I pray that this trust will stay for a long time because this is the time of the innocence and the time of growing up, learning by doing and gathering experiences for them. I tell what I know, shared what I think are important and showed interest when they needed one. Well, actually I must showed interest in everything they do because children always need attention. They love it when you really, really do listen.
Then half an hour passed by and my mother-in-law came to pick up Mike & Tyra for a walk, Miya & Rosalyn gone out to their girlfriends in the neighbourhood and finally Andrew woke up to have his breakfast – and in peace. So, another hug and kisses (lots of kisses, gentle kisses) and erotic whispers in my ears ; then did Andrew allow me to pour coffee into his cup. We both had a fortifying breakfast. Well, that’s what he said and I prepared breakfast as if I am going to feed ten people in the house. I said, there are six of us! Andrew laughed.
How wonderful it is that when morning comes everything is in place and in order, according exactly to plan and running smoothly, then a few minutes of romantic breakfast moments with my dear husband, I was ready to go out to meet a long time friend and Andrew will then go out with his friend Donny to the town. The thought cheered me considerably.
Today I went to the abbey above the hill, going to meet a dear old friend – Sister Anna; she had just returned from a safe journey in Palestine – a missionary mission that she joined lately to help the war victims, the abused victims and many charities works over there. She stayed away for almost three months, if I am not mistaken. She had left a dearly note in my letter box a few days ago to tell me that she’s home already and that she invited me for a cup of coffee and cakes! How wonderful!
Now, in my many entries I have never really explain or to describe about this abbey for I knew not really much about the abbey itself for the history of that building is rather confusing, but I try my best to write this in here. It will takes time for me to find the right words for it and my head begins to twirl around to try to find suitable words to explain what I think or saw outside of the abbey and the inside of the building itself. Now, prepare for the next journey in my entry … Come with me, feel and see what I see.
I stood facing the abbey itself and stood there for a moment, retrieve my small dark brown leather journal from the left pocket of my jacket and tracing the building carefully with my eyes, trying to describe this place in my mind and wrote this down whatever that comes across my mind. By this time, it is already noon but the sun is weak, the weather is a bit cold than usual and the call of the autumn is there to tell us that the season is starting to change, just as the trees in the hills are too, changing. But the sun set delicious on my cheeks, bright with its honey colour with promise and the illusion of warmth. The vista before me, this intimate and timeless marriage of stone and wood, plaster and rock, water and sky made the impatience retreat and my heart began to sing. I wanted it, all of it : not just the abbey itself but to swallow the sweetness of this view and to embrace it in my arms – but rather my eyes feeling that joy and my heart jumps in excitement!
Not far away from me, movement caught my eye in the formal garden to the leftside of the abbey: a black-and-white cat, picking its way through the grass, heading to the vegetables to hunt its lunch. Down the valley, a cow complained; in the yard, a cock crew; on my hill, I stood, spellbound. Had the abbey been more deliberately planned, if there had been the faintest air to artifice about the view, the perfection would have been cloying. As it was, the building and its out-buildings were uneven enough, the materials sufficiently varied to make it apparent that the man-made objects had grown up as organically as the trees. So majestic and powerful in a sense that overpowering the place with its haunting beauty.
With the sun actually generating a trace of mild warmth, I remained silent for a second and walk away to enter the main yard of the abbey, closed the gate behind which I could not really managed to push for its great weight. So, I left this as it is – open ajar. This was a very grand gate indeed, ornately worked iron hanging from twin stone pillars on which coats of arms melted into obscurity and atop which unidentifiable creatures perched. There was a snug, tiny lodge house at one side which is the house where most of the nuns are living. The wide, straight drive that rose gently from the gate was flanked by fifty feet of close-cropped lawn on either side, behind which stood twin walls of vegetation – hug rhododendrons (rosebays, evergreen shrub with large clusters of trumpet-shaped red, purple, pink or white flowers), for the most part; the entrance drive would be a pageant come spring. Taller trees, most of them decidious, grew above the shrubs, to protect them from the summer sun.
The abbey was composed of three main blocks, with the largest, central portion set back between the two wings like a lion welcoming visitors between its enormous outstretched paws. Or like a sphinx; yes, there was something distinctly feminine about the abbey, its strength delicate rather than muscular. The drive crossed a stream that merged with the beautifully curved pond, and came to its end in a circle between the two paws; from where I stood, the drive looked remarkably like a ball of yarn stretched taut, awaiting the great feline’s attention and amusement.
Too symmetrical and unadorned to be called Baroque, too richly varied for a Palladian label, ( link to Palladian – Click it straightaway here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palladian_architecture ) its stone some inderminate shade between warm glad and cool pewter, with crenellations and domes and a wealth of windows that hovered just on the safe edge of excessive, abbey was unlike any building I had ever saw. This is second to the Castle of Neuschwanstein in Munich. Those who wants to see what this Neuschwanstein Castle is all about, then straightaway click the link below. It was built by the mad king Ludwig II.
~Neuschwanstein Castle. Built by King Ludwig II- a mad king!~
And just before I enter the giant metal door of the abbey, I stood to watch the silent ancient, ornate fountain that formed the centre of the circle. It had not yet been drained for the winter, and the high sun collected million diamonds, the water playing and dripping off bronze figures. There were pelicans with outstretched wings that intertwined and emitted jets of water into the bronze sea-cliffs at their base. I did not think that I had ever seen such an ornate fountain incoporating such whimsy. Certainly it did not have much in common with the immense dignity of the building itself. What an abbey! What a place! What a maddness this is to describe the mind of this one man that build this place with his fantastic architect plans & phantasies. Really so maddening! Well, who ever that man was!
Sister Anna greeted me with a warm hug, such a serene smile that curved nicely across her face, her eyes glistened with such happiness and I knew it today will be such a long day for conversation – and I am incredibly excited of this. Now, the interior hall was freezing cold, of which is normal for such a gigantic Middle-Age building, but as unremittingly impressive as any King or prince could have asked- or many kings before it was given to the church, for that matter. A hundred visitors might collect beneath that frescoed dome, under those arched collonades, among those acres of echoing marble both real and faux; the grandeur would still dwarf them all.
The grander entrance halls – huge halls, halls whose every inch was encrusted with gilt and mirrors, halls dizzying with the sheer accumulation of beauty – a room with a stronger sense of what I can only term personality. The room was a cube of marble and alabaster, the black-and-white tiles of its floor giving birth to a pale stairway slightly narrower at the top leading up to the towers. Near the foot of the stairway stood a larger-than-life statue of a Greek goddess (of which is not so Christian like – so does the statues in Vatican city), the outstretched right arm that held a harp; at first sight it seems as if she is glaring at you right there, following you with her eyes where ever you go. Fluted columns of a heavily veined alabaster tapered up to support first an upper gallery and then the side-lit dome above.
I stood close to this one wall not far from the stairway, looking up to watch and study a fresco the dome depicted. Such paintings are created to commemorate victory of battles ( many battles) – or allegorical, with classical gods and illustrated stories. The combination of animals was unexpected in this and I did asked myself so many times (every time when I came to the abbey) what is it that the painter is illustrating? Then Sister Anna who also was in trance herself said, “You love this, do you? The arts of this place and its beauty. Especially this. Incredible, isn’t it? Do you know what you see?”
“Well, do you see this?” I pointed to the figures. “From the Book of Amos. A description of Armageddon – the end of the world. ‘The Day of the Lord,’ the prophet calls it, which some desire as the time when the Lord comes to set human affairs straight, but which, Amos says, we ought to dread for just that reason. ‘Why would you want the Day of the Lord?’ ” I recited. “It is darkness, and not light. As if a man ran from a lion’ ” – here I pointed up at the unlikely beast – ” ‘ and a bear met him; or went into a house to lean against the wall, and a serpent bit him.’ The Lord goes on, ‘I hate you, I despise your feasts, I take no joy in your solemn conclaves.’ He accepts neither burnt offerings nor sacrifices, will not listen to the singing and music given to Him. ‘But,’ He says, ‘let justice roll down like waters, righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.’ You see? It’s even written along the bottom, over and over again in Latin.” Justitia fortitudo … This alternated, I saw with another, “Righteousness is my strength.”
“So, you did really do your homework!” Sister Anna chuckled and I gave away a happy smile.
“Yes, I did. I came here more than a hundred times to visit you, and yet those five years I live in this place, I never know what this fresco means. Now, I know,” said I happily.
We both stared at the scene overhead in silence before Sister Anna lead me away from it because she knew that I am not easy to be led away from it. Ah! She knew me well that good lady and a Sister in Christ. Then between one breath and another, I felt very happy though I came to be silent and thoughtful, and now it is time for a cup of coffee and a piece of cake! And this is my journey into the glittering heart of perfection!