Preparing to Fly ๐Ÿก

After the heat and sunny skies of Italy we have been treated to grey skies and rain in Holland. We dressed in traditional Dutch costumes and tasted cheese in the historic town of Volendam. Despite rain we visited the village of Marken and toured a wooden shoe “factory” where we saw traditional wooden shoes as well as many other styles including pink high heel wooden shoes. We listened to classical music in a stone arch passageway in Amsterdam- violins, accordion and trombone sounded like a full orchestra as notes of Handel’s Messiah soared around us. We admired Rembrandt’s Night Watch in the Rijk’s Museum then walked amid life size replicas of the characters of the painting at Rembrandt Plaza. Along with hundreds of others we rode bicycles along the city canals and through Vondel Park. After walking around for awhile we were thrilled we were able to find our bikes among thousands of others!
I have learned from travel that everywhere you go it becomes a part of you in some way – it is impossible to return the same person you were when you left๐Ÿ˜„

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

20170608_181416(Sagrada Familia dominates Barcelona’s skyline)

Sagrada Familia is a Catholic basilica in Barcelona. Construction began in 1882. In 1883 Antoni Gaudi became involved and made it his life’s passion. It was only one quarter complete when he died in 1926. Construction of the basilica relies solely on donations. It is hoped construction will be complete in 2026 – one hundred years after Gaudi’s death.
Sagrada Familia is unlike any of the churches we have seen on our travels and seems to defy description. Eyes feast on a buffet of sights that soar, colours that shade dark to light as they rise to the heavens, facades that carve Christian messages in their towers. Astonish, amaze, admire – wow!DSC01370
(Gaudi’s tomb in a crypt beneath Sagrada Familia)
DSC01366(west facade)
DSC01346(east facade)

Montserrat Monastery

P1010346Montserrat is a Benedictine monastery near Barcelona. It houses a Black Madonna statue that dates to the 12th century. The figure is above the altar in the basilica of the monastery. In her honour Gregorian chants are sung daily at noon. Many tourists travel here only to see the statue. The Black Madonna is the patron saint of Catalonia.

Writing Japan

toriiofshannoshrine

(internet photo: Torii of Shanno Shrine in Nagasaki after atomic bomb was dropped on August 9, 1945. It was the only thing that withstood the explosion in the area)
A friend challenged me to write a poem about Japan; this is what I came up with.

Japan is a tsunami,
a world of samurai and sumo
ikebana and kamikaze.
The land of the rising sun
graces us with cherry blossoms
and temples that flow
from a calligraphy brush.

Earthquakes reverberate
half a world away,
carry strength
to the west,
remnants of people’s live
swept out to sea.

A crewless “ghost ship”
sails to Haida Gwaii.
While we sip exotic tea
and inspect wreckage,
Hiroshima and Nagasaki
disturb us with grace,
slowly dissolving.

Japan is a sculptured garden,
glass and sleek steel
arranged with precision
next to paper walled teahouses,
Mount Fuji an elegant backdrop
to bullet trains that shuttle
honorable tradition
into a unpruned future.

We Can Find Hope

broken-web

Anger and tenderness: my selves.
And now I can believe they breathe in me
as angels, not polarities.
Anger and tenderness: the spider’s genius
to spin and weave in the same action
from her own body, anywhere —
even from a broken web.
(Adrienne Rich)

Inspiration from Mary Oliver

Song of the Builders

On a summer morning
I sat down
on a hillside
to think about God –
ย 
a worthy pastime.
Near me, I saw
a single cricket;
it was moving the grains of the hillside
ย 
this way and that way.
How great was its energy,
how humble its effort.
Let us hope
ย 
ย 
it will always be like this,
each of us going on
in our inexplicable ways
building the universe.
ย 
from Why I Wake Early (2004)