Saturday, 21 August 2010

Amarantha. A fable.

Throughout history patron saints have been chosen as protectors or guardians over areas of life. These areas can include occupations, illnesses, churches , countries, places, causes - anything that is important to us. The earliest records show that people and churches were named after apostles and martyrs as early as the fourth century.

'Yes, you may photograph me.'
Amarantha, the patron saint of this small Spanish river valley agrees graciously. Today though, she is invisible to all but a few.

The taxi driver smiles and photographs the river. He doesn't see Amarantha sitting on a rock, red poppies in her hand. His gold wedding ring glints in the afternoon sun. She smiles. He loves the river. He knows it well. He got married here three years ago.

'That's a great shot' says the thin man on holiday from Germany, nervously testing each unsteady rock beside the fast flowing blue grey water. His nicotine stained index finger clicks on his new Canon camera. Amarantha's attention is taken by a tattoo of a butterfly on the foreigners scrawny wrist.

Another shot, this time of the lagoon.
'Sehr gut.' he says. 'We leave now?'

The German is hungry and says he's thinking about food. He knows this is an excuse. He can't stand still. He says he didn't have lunch. He looks all around, as if expecting an ambush. He doesn't see Amarantha, smiling.

'Tranquillo' says the taxi driver. 'Chill !'

'How on earth did they find their way down here?' said the frog to his wife.

Butterflies continue to play around Amarantha's head. She waves her hand and pouting with her mouth, exhales a long 'shoo'. Her breath has the power and the feel of a cool breeze.
'God it's chilly' says the German to the taxi driver.

The frogs wife leaps into the river and swims strongly beside her husband.
'I believe they're here to celebrate something special. Why else would Amarantha be here?' she splutters.
'Maybe. Maybe not. Who knows ?' mumbles her husband, springing elegantly back onto dry land.

Butterflies, dragonflies and turtles watch as Amarantha stands up. On the opposite side of the river a farmer is sitting in his tree, picking oranges. He waves to her.
'Thank you for coming today Amarantha,' he calls.'We need your blessing. Winter has changed the course of our river. The pools are too deep. We might loose some of our children.'
He didn't need to say another word.

Amarantha wades into the middle of the river. Lifting her arms, her ancient face glows, and out of her mouth flow the sweetest of sounds. It is not a hymn that fills the air, nor a song. If it is like anything at all, it is like overtone chanting, perfuming the late summer afternoon with pure alchemy.

The river spirits rest on stones and branches and listen, time stands still. The breeze suspends it journey, the sun dims, the clouds gather, the eagles overhead swoop, and the small land creatures gather together mesmerized.
A few drops of rain fall.

'Swim?' says the taxi driver pulling off his shirt.

The German looks like he's seen a ghost, but slowly , he strips down to his green stripped underwear. Then with a terrible yell, he plunges into the lagoon, unaware that Amaratha is only a meter away.

Soon the two men are splashing about like five year olds.

After a while, the German stands up and grabs the taxi driver's arm.
'My son drowned in a river accident ten years ago' he says. 'He was three. It was entirely my fault. This is the first time I've been in a river since then.'

The taxi driver can't find words.

A cool breeze touches both of them.
'God it's cold' says the taxi driver.

Amarantha's 'song' gets louder, but they cannot hear her.
'It doesn't matter,' agree the tall wise bamboos swaying by the banks of the river. They will feel her energy.

And as the men dry themselves with their shirts, back to back, Amarantha begins to whisper:

"May you arise each day with the voice of blessing whispering in your heart.

May the sanctuary of your soul never become haunted.

May you know the eternal longing that lives in the heart of time.

May there be kindness in your gaze when you look within.

May you allow the the wild beauty of the invisible world to gather you, mind you, and embrace you in belonging.

May you know where you truly belong."

Now dressed, turning to face each other,the taxi driver puts a gentle hand on his passengers shoulder.

'We're done' he says.

'Yes' says Amarantha, merging into the spray of the waterfall, becoming one with her river.

'You're done'.

And the butterflies and the dragonflies and the frogs and the little creatures of the fields knew she would come again, when she was needed.

She never needs to be asked.

The Spanish name Amarantha means 'rare,' and is derived from the Greek 'amarantos' meaning 'unfading'.

Amaramtha's 'song' is from John O' Donohue's poem Belonging,
from his book To Bless This Space between Us.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Prayer for Strength

May I live this day
Compassionate of heart
Clear in word
Gracious in awareness
Courageous in thought
Generous in love.

From John O' Donohue's Matins
(To Bless this Space Between us)

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

A Historic Day in the pueblo

Today is a truly historic day in our village, at least for three of us. Many of us are not bothered, life will go on just as before.

Jose, the handsome middle aged Argentinian WiFi man arrived this morning with his young assistant Marcus.
They sweated a lot and drank gallons of iced water.

Three of us in the village are now connected to WiFi, thanks to Jose, Marcus and an initiative by the local town hall.
Before, it took anything from 9-20 minutes just to enter Yahoo.

I have been waiting for this day for the last eight years!

All I can say is Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah!