Sunday, December 26, 2010


"It isn't all those promises that you vow to keep then don't,
It isn't that the world will end but the likelihood that it won't.
O alarm, o wonderful alarm,
Wake me up from remembering...

I employed my machine today to lose myself in a place of chill and fog. The summit of Mount Donna Buang was reminiscent of La Verna, where I once wandered among millennium-old chapels through a silent icy forest, before joining the Franciscans in solemn chant. This Boxing Day was like that one, except wrong: a wintry Summer.

The look-out tower looked at me through the dense white, almost ominously.

As did other objects.

And then the silence and slow walk through deep fog shifted something inside me.  I was taken back to that monastic Italian winter more than ten years ago.  Something about this place breathed, and I felt its breath in the quiet trees and cold stones. I found myself reciting fragments of Gregorian chant, remembered and sung under my breath.

But it was not only the Gregorian that was brought to mind in that place today. I thought of these words, which suggest a journey I had made in the years since that day in La Verna:

"He who knows how to breath in the air of my writings is conscious that it is the air of the heights, that it is bracing. A man must be built for it, otherwise the chances are that it will chill him. The ice is near, the loneliness is terrible - but how serenely everything lies in the sunshine! How freely one can breath! How much, one feels, lies beneath one! Philosophy, as I have understood it hitherto, is a voluntary retirement into regions of ice and mountain-peaks - the seeking-out of everything strange and questionable in existence, everything upon which, hitherto, morality has set its ban. Through long experience, derived from such wanderings in forbidden country, I acquired an opinion very different from that which may seem generally desirable...."

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