There are times amidst the harsh cruelty of life that a deep stirring awakens from my innermost depths. A yearning of infinite tenderness to reach out and touch another with gentle warm soft intimacy. It is a stirring song that whispers, and reaches out in quivering resonance to embrace the hard cold shells of life, like the breath of spring awakens the stark winter landscape .
It is a yearning for intimacy in its most profound sense and calls to mind the delicate beauty of fragrant rose petals. In awe I reach to touch its soft beauty and inhale its penetrating fragrance, knowing how vulnerable it is in its unfurling, and how fleeting the moment in time. Yet, in that most tender vulnerability is concealed the greatest power imaginable; it is the essence of beauty.
The experience of beauty is need within us without which we cannot survive. We need it as much as we need breath. Without the experience of beauty our lives closes down and becomes brittle and hard, encrusted with insensitivity. Beauty is the breath of life that awakens us from our cold winter dreams. In its essence beauty is invisible and fleeting in nature. We cannot grasp it or contain it. The essence of beauty lies in its vulnerability and that you can only experience it in a fleeting moment that you leave you with breathless awe.
As soon as you try to capture beauty it disappears, for what you are actually trying to capture is not the outer form of beauty but how you felt when you experienced that beauty. Yet, try as you might you will never be able to recapture that moment, just as you can never step into the same river twice. Beauty facilitates a moment of incredible intimacy, of truly experiencing something of the divine nature. The transforming nature of beauty is that you experience something you have never experienced before. In that moment you completely forget who you are and open yourself to the other. Once you have seen and experienced, you can never be the same again because it has changed you forever. That moment, however brief, will impregnate you with a seed of yearning and that seed of yearning will contain a vision of your future. Never ignore what strikes you as beautiful for what you perceive to be beautiful contains an oracular message for you.
Once upon a time a long, long time ago, poets spoke of a garden, some call it the garden of Hesperides, in which grew a special tree. It is said that this tree was a wedding gift to Hera and bore golden apples. This tree was however, well guarded, the dragon Ladon curled around its base. For a good reason these apples were so well guarded for it is said that if humans eat of this fruit, they may be destroyed, poisoned, or driven mad. No mortal can eat these fruits of divinity safely without losing their humanity. From time to time it was rumoured that humans did go to this garden with the help of the Goddess.
One day a young man wandered into the coolness of a forest. It was a hot summer’s day and he soon grew tired. There he saw a beautiful clear spring over which rises an ancient oak tree. He refreshed himself but felt drowsiness overcoming him. He decided to lie down in the fragrant grass at the roots of the tree and drifted into a sleep.
A splash of water on his face woke him from his slumber. He opened his eyes and saw in the spring the source of the splash. Bathing in the spring was the fairest lady he ever beheld. She smiled and beckoned him to join her.
There he stood face to face with her. A great desire came upon him to kiss her lips.
“Let me kiss your lips, fair lady,” he implored her.
“If you kiss my lips, then you must surely fall into my power. You will be bound to serve me through weal or woe as it may chance.”
“It is a penalty I would gladly pay.” He replied and pressed his mouth to her lips.
Then she sprang up, and he knew that he was bound to follow her wherever she might lead him.
Follow her he did and soon he found himself to be in a place he knew not to be of this earth. Past rivers of blood, over fields of jewel-like flowers they traversed and many more wonders he saw. Finally they arrived at an Apple tree with beautiful golden apples. He offered to pick some of its fruit for her but instead she touched his eyes and he saw that a dragon was curled around the trunk.
“Nay, she said, “These fruits will lead to madness or death unless transformed by the Goddess. She removed her girdle and hung it around the neck of the dragon. The dragon fell into a sleep.
“Now it is safe to pick,” she said, “Bring one to me.”
He did so and she ate it. By some wondrous means bread and wine appeared into her hands which she gave to him to succour his thirst and hunger. Again he felt drowsiness overcame him. She picked him up as lightly as a babe and held him to her bosom until he fell into a deep sleep.
He awoke on the fragrant grass next to the spring, with words echoing in his mind.
“Now you must return, but heed my words. A time will come when I shall call you to come back to me, and you must pledge yourself to obey my summons, wherever you may be. I shall send two messengers, whom you will know at once are not of your world.”
He was glad to hear these words for already he felt a longing inside of him.
He went back to his village; suddenly finding himself possessed with a highly charged inspiration. Through his ability fame and fortune came to him, but he was not entirely a happy man. There was always a strange light of longing in his eyes.
Many years later, as he was feasting at a banquet in his honour, when a man came running in and said:
“I have seen the strangest sight in all the world. A milk-white hart and a milk-white hind from the forest beyond the hill-side are walking down the street outside.”
He rushed outside and sure enough, stepping slowly towards them in the moonlight, undisturbed by the crowd of people that had appeared, came the two graceful creatures.
And he knew them to be no earthly creatures. Happiness overcame him at last as he left the throng and with lightness followed the hart and the hind to return him into the arms of his longing.