Friday 3 September 2010

View from a Window

We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.
-Thich Nhat Hanh

Every evening when the sun sets, the rust brick of the roof outside my window changes from dull flat dust to a bright living glow. What is that called? Is there a name for that particular reflected light on stone and slate and brick that turns the inanimate world to life? Turner believed that light was the emanation of God’s spirit and in his later years his work focused almost exclusively on the effects of light. On his deathbed they say he uttered the words, “The sun is God.” My father painted this light. I love this light. In a country like England, this light is not a sure thing. Summer days have faded and autumn will sweep by soon. So my eyes drink deeply when the light is here.

In between hospital visits, my room is a mess. A mess of Things. Papers, books, shoes, postcards, medicines, a guitar, hot water bottles, promises, letters, presents. I receive many presents! It is not always this way - but creative energy is like a small undefined tornado. Sometimes I make this body, this room, the gentlest of hermitages; peace and wisdom radiate neatly from the correct feng shui corners. At other times, some whirling daemon is at play and when the damage is done, I wish I could sleep on the ceiling - the tidiest space in the room.

I wish I could borrow another body for a while. One that escapes infections and antibodies and cataracts and steers effectively around the petty weaknesses of physical frailty. A body that thinks a thing and it is done. A body touched by the light that makes stones glow.

I attended a wedding on my birthday two weeks ago. It was in Nottingham at the University, where just a few days earlier, Thich Nhat Hanh had walked and smiled with the monks and nuns of the engaged Buddhism order. I missed the retreat but my feet did not. If I am touching the same earth as others who do wondrous things, like giving birth and teaching freedom, does their magic enter me too? I like to think so. I have to think so.
It is the only way I can survive.

first painting: JMW Turner's 'Sunrise with Sea Monsters';
second painting: W Blake's 'Pegasus


Wine and Words said...

The light
the movement
and textures of both
touch down
ripple through
the few degrees of separation

And when the ceiling seems appealing, perhaps rising above is where we need to be, to whatever degree we can manage. The attempt is all.

Sam Liu said...

Your words are beautiful and transporting, Shaista. That evening light is so wonderful, and so brilliant when one sees it in England. Hope you're feeling well, and that things are going good for you, hope and peace always :)

mermaid gallery said...

Your mind is not frail...celebrate your art and poetry. It is rare in this muddled world . Celebrate you......

Yin said...

Ha and did you not realise you are a sun yourself? I hope indeed our little magics touch you too because I have been basking in your warmth and radiance all the while

Jo said...

Shaista, you and your family are so brilliantly talented. I'm gobsmacked. I guess what you luck in physical abilities, you make up for in your soul, which radiates dazzling light. It's just amazing.

Tess Kincaid said...

Hope this finds you comfortable and happy, Shaista! I'm picturing you, smiling, knitting away. Hugs and peace, dear friend. xx

Ruth said...

My feet touch the same earth as you, does your magic enter me too? I feel it does. No one dances with words as lightly and sweetly as you.

The painting is very Turner-like, and I thought it was his, until you said your father painted it.

I wish I could trade bodies with you for a while, not that I want what you experience, but I wish I could relieve your burden. It's something I've done before, a la a suggestion by G.K. Chesterton that we literally bear one another's burdens.

Ruth said...

By the way, I wonder what day is your birthday? Mine is 8/22.

Muznah said...

you think so..? I KNOW so! you a walking wonder :)

p.s. I would love to see a picture of that bedroom

Unknown said...

Hey, count me in for that tidy spot on the ceiling in the room ! Wish you peace and good luck.

Relyn Lawson said...

Your words...

Your words are always so flowing and lovely. You string them together like a tiny matched set of pearls.

Jeanne-ming Brantingham said...

My girl,
I would loan you my body. Just call and you can have it.

But your mind and heart....I would love to borrow that a while and I think I do, each time I read your enlightening words.

much love to you.

Cloudia said...


thank you for the rich wisdom of light.

Aloha from Honolulu

Comfort Spiral

Cloudia said...


thank you for the rich wisdom of light.

Aloha from Honolulu

Comfort Spiral

Kitty Moore said...

The paintings are as beautiful as your pure soul x

Jo said...

I hope you are okay.

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