Chantilly lace on Brick

Bricks is the theme of Photrablogger’s MM Challenge #12 and I thought these will fit in well for some thoughts on brickwork.

Palazzo Ducale

Section of wall Old Square Mantua

The first picture is a close up of a wall on one side of the Old Square in Mantua (Italy) which as been listed under UNESCO heritage sites.  I think the splashes of white stone on this wall of the Palazzo Ducale, which dates back to the 15th Century, gives it an enchanting ‘lacey’ look … like Chantilly lace on brick !!!

Palazzo Ducale, Mantua, Lombardy

A bigger expanse of the same wall: – more white motifs and more enchantment. A pattern of small hollow squares is visible – like dents, but these are too ordered to be bricks that have fallen out. It may be due to some restoration work for you can see where some windows appear to have been walled up. These too add to the character and charm. The small angular buttresses on the roof are duplicated on the walls on the opposite side of the square – see below. The entire square may have been part of the Palace  (I did not read the guidebook) and perhaps the different designs represent different quarters. The white insets are visible in a more frugal way on one wall.  Repairs may have been carried out for the pattern is interrupted. The other wall  is pure brick – with no aesthetic extras. The chimney indicates it may have been the kitchen area … elementary my dear Watson :)

And now the picture contrasting the old with the adjoining new, ochre wall with blue windows . Old and new blend seamlessly.

Palazzo Ducale, 15th Century

A toast to buildings that stand the test of time .

Postcript :  We had travelled to Mantua to meet Rev. Sr. Teresina – Professor of Christology at my faculty in Sri Lanka, who had travelled from Carpi, whilst we travelled from Milan to meet halfway in this entrancing city.  I took this whilst enjoying a delicious Italian meal with famous Italian wine in celebration for we meeting after maybe five years and friendship is plenty cause to celebrate.

I had initially ‘cropped out’ our table from the picture so as not to detract from the brickwork. On second thoughts however, I kept in the bottle of wine, for a building this beautiful and this enduring, surely deserves a toast.

So, a toast to buildings with workmanship and materials that endure …  and a toast likewise to enduring friendships.

Cheers :)

Magnifico Milano !

I’ve had an anything but mundane two weeks in Prague, Turin, Milan and environs.

With so much rich art, culture, heritage and beauty around, I was hard pressed both in time and opportunity to find anything  to meet Photrabloggers challenge.  Since I was clicking away like crazy, I was surprised that nothing seemed to fit the challenge so I decided to look up Mundane.

Mundane

OK .. .. there it is … ” Mundane  –  routine, ordinary, everyday, run-of-the mill, customary  …. earthy, material,  non-spiritual.

No wonder then I found it difficult.  The last two weeks was anything but run of the mill.  Definitely not my routine everyday experience, and definitely (many times over) not not-spiritual !!  I mean .. those magnificent churches, castles, architecture, works of art by Renaissance masters that transcend everyday terrestrial experiences.  New faces, new people, new cultures  .. all novel and unique. Nothing mundane for me there :)

But I had missed two challenges so decided that perhaps the apartments I saw daily in the last week would bring in the ‘routine’ element for mundane.  Even though I found them fascinating … wondering at the type of lifestyle the Milanese lived behind them – they could probably pass the test for mundane everyday living so here I go :

View from our bedroom window :

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Some apartments on the street in the Primaticcio District of Milan where we stayed :

I do not like to be around high rise buildings but these seemed different.  Multi-storied but not high rise! There were plenty of open spaces in between, with parks, gardens and playing fields

Basketball  and soccer court

Basketball and soccer court. The older kids played basketball whilst the small ones played soccer between their legs. Wish I had taken a photo .. so busy looking on!!!

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Church and open court yard. Buildings and shops all around. We stayed in the orange building behind the Church Steeple.

And I found that the Milanese like to have flowers and plants even in apartments –  or beautiful gardens to look down on. Their view will change with the seasons. Mundane and beautiful !!!!

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Fragrant plants are everywhere giving off a heady perfume into the atmosphere !!

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I doubt I would like to live in Milan  … it’s not what I am used to.  I need to come down to earth – literally :) from high rise buildings and works of art that take you to dizzy heights.   But with its heritage and art, Da Vinci’s Last Supper,  and its Duomo amongst many others,

Milan is magnifico !!! 

And I could not just give you one mundane picture :)  even though I tried !!!

Asylum Roads

Rambling Rose:

Andy Mersdon has penned some inspiring words – Asylum Roads – to be sung to the tune of what he calls the annoyingly catchy tune ‘Country Roads’ by John Denver .

It really highlights the plight of refugees risking their lives to a place they long to be …

Almost made it, across this ocean,
One more hardship, here comes the monsoon season.
Children die here, in their mothers arms
Will we find a nation, to stop this awful harm?

If we can’t help in any other way, let’s at least whisper a prayer daily for those on the high seas today leaving everything behind in search of asylum  …  refuge, … freedom.

Ocean breeze, take me there 
To the place, I long to be 
Safe asylum, distant refuge

Take me there
On pure blue seas.

Originally posted on Poetry is my aeroplane:

Written in response to a Stanford University prompt to write new words (politically motivated) to an easily recognisable tune.  I have chosen John Denver’s annoyingly catchy tune “Country Roads” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vrEljMfXYo).

Asylum

Almost made it, across this ocean,
One more hardship, here comes the monsoon season.
Children die here, in their mothers arms
Will we find a nation, to stop this awful harm?
 
Ocean breeze, take me there,
To the place, I long to be.
Safe asylum
Distant refuge, take me there
On pure blue seas.
 
One more shoreline, shines before our eyes
The Christian people will surely grant our lives.
But dark ships stop us and point us back to sea,
Reject our arrival and more horrors we will see.
 
Ocean breeze, take me there,
To the place, I long to be.
Safe asylum
Distant refuge, take me there
On pure blue seas.
 
You surely hear our…

View original 71 more words

Shifting Street Scene

A street scene is never the same with vehicles, people and all types of traffic constantly moving through.

I captured these pictures early on Tuesday – of ‘walkers’ focused on health; trishaws scurrying past with the familiar ‘tuk-tuk’ sound that they are commonly known by;  cars whizzing past tooting exercise addicts off the road (the walkers club tend to stroll six abreast);  bicycles;  bread-vans by which you can set your clock … all changing scenes of our busy street.   Made for a very interesting half hour inspired by challenge of Mundane Monday.

However I did not have time to wait for the buffaloes  (Yes … buffaloes traverse our road too). They come by late afternoon on their way to the remaining piece of wetland, and return when the sun sets.

I also could not keep vigil for the almost 8 ft or more crocodile that resides in the lake (which is just visible in the background). Mr. Croc tends to float downstream around 2.00 pm.  You  know when he is around because everyone stops to look at him. I too stop almost every time … just to admire and to marvel at how he glides through so silently with his  body partly submerged. No ripples!!!!

And in case you are wondering, the lake has been fenced off.  Long and interesting tale of our fundamental rights action for the fence to come down when the lake and wetland was leased to a private company and the environment degraded. We won the case but the government deviously moved war veterans into the ‘island’ that had been created – knowing that was one ‘fight’ we would drop: you can’t argue for the environment against those who have risked their lives for the country.

PS. This challenge is a bit late.  Was trying to put a signature on my pictures but has been a hectic week and too busy to figure it out.

… PAW FACES !!!

MUNDANE MONDAY CHALLENGE

https://trablogger.wordpress.com/2015/05/04/mundane-monday-challenge-5/

“This is a challenge created to find beauty in almost everything. The challenge is simple : find beauty in everyday mundane things, capture the beauty and upload the photographs. And give me a pingback.

Anyone who comes across this post can take part in this challenge. And you are free to challenge or invite other bloggers who might be interested in  finding beauty in those everyday things all around us.”

I decided to participate because my pictures are mundane in any case so I need not be worried about them (Photrablogger is a real pro !!!)  and also it is a great start to the week to find beauty in the things around us.

So I am sharing something I took it a week ago and thought people will think I am crazy to be taking PAWS !!  but this challenge enables me to share it. I think the faces on my doggy’s paws are REALLY CUTE !! :)   This is the close up …

112 ..AW FACES !And this is the full shot ..with his little nose too.

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Maundy Thursday – The Night of Love

Uncannily, as I was reflecting on the Last Supper of our Lord, I heard a station playing “Can you feel the love tonight” (From the Lion King.)   Listening to the words, I thought of the love that must have been present that Maundy Thursday – Jesus final night on earth; the night when he gave his apostles the commandment to love and instituted the sacrament of Love.

The chorus of the song echoes in the background – Can you feel the love tonight? How its laid to rest.  It seems so appropriate.

Jesus knows in a few hours his life and mission will end. He loves his friends so dearly but the hour has come to return to His Father. It is time to say goodbye.

It is the most momentous farewell in the history of man. God became man and dwelt among us.  And now he is leaving us.

The success of Jesus’ entire mission could hinge on what memories, message and instructions he leaves behind for his followers.

What can he say?  Continue reading

MEMORIES OF A MURDER MOST FOUL

Journalist and Editor of the Sunday Leader Lasantha Wickrematunge was shot in the head by cold blooded killers … whilst on his way to work on 8th January 2009

In an uncanny editorial published posthumously a few days later like a voice from the grave, Lasantha predicted his murder and laid the blame for it squarely on the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa – our incumbent president.     http://www.thesundayleader.lk/20090111/editorial-.htm

It seems a strange twist of fate, that the same government will be holding a Presidential election on the anniversary of  the murder most foul: 8th January which the sooth sayers have apparently fixed as the most auspicious date.   Dejavue ?

This article which I wrote and was published in the Sunday Times in 2009  is being posted here as a reminder to us to follow the call of conscience for the truth will set us free.

LEST WE  FORGET …. 

lw

WHERE WAS I WHEN THEY CAME FOR MY BROTHER?

My soul is searching … pouring over innumerable articles that have been penned in papers and on the net … hoping to find a word that might still the restlessness I feel following the vicious and vengeful slaying of a fearless journalist.

Why do I feel this way?  I did not know Lasantha personally though I occasionally read his articles and knew about his courageous investigations.

Of the many thousands of words spoken and written since his murder, some strike home – sear home – seeking an acknowledgement.  Echoes taken up by D Mark and others – where was IWhere was I when Lasantha needed another voice to support him?   Where was I “when they came for him”?   Where have I been all this time …like Nero carrying on blithely whilst my country descended into darkness?  

And where am I now?   Am I not my brother’s keeper?  Then why do I continue to hide instead of running out, totally exposed to the powers of earth, shouting out the truth with trust in the God of Truth.  The truth will set you free.  The truth will set us free.  Yet we cower and murmur: should I, should I not?   Why not? 

Is there time to turn the tide? Can we build the wave that someone spoke of?  All it takes is a few steps; a few steps that would bring people together and soon we will have a wall – a wave of humanity walking together.

I took one step.  I attended the Church Service to pay my respects to a man who gave his life in the fight for freedom of expression.  One of the priests called him a prophet.  Those words struck a chord in my questing soul.  A prophet?  Yes of course.  A voice crying in the wilderness; I can add …. make straight the twisted corridors of power.  Stop the racial prejudice parading under the guise of victory.

Inspired, I took a second step.  I joined the funeral walk to to the cemetry, Kanatte – with a lot more respect and the beginnings of defiance.  Let them know.  Let me be counted.

A third step.  I held a banner that someone gave me that proclaimed my right to have a different opinion without being labelled a traitor. 

Metaphorically, and physically, the funeral walk felt like angioplasty opening up a clogged artery.  What seemed to start as a small procession soon ballooned into a sea of persons that filled the roadway from Kirimandala roundabout to Kanatte.  Metaphorically too, like angioplasty brings hope, the growing throngs seemed to reflect hope, an unspoken mood that where there is life there is still hope; marching together, united we could still end tyranny.  Yes we can?!

www.sampsoniaway.org   lasantha_face0-e1317749227206   3184267389_0385ccc167_o (1)

Spoken and written words pierced the conscience  … Let’s not feel that reading ‘The Leader’ alone absolves us … Lets rise to bring light to the darkness  … lets continue the legacy.    Lets not forget … let his death not be in vain … let freedom ring ..Let the ‘dash’ of our lives matter … It’s not the voice of our enemies but the silence of our friends … All it takes for evil to thrive is for good people to do nothing … 

It made me wonder.  Do we really want peace without freedom?  I don’t.  I might as well die (as Lasantha did).  Is that foolhardy or courageous?

I find the answer in Hebrews 2:14:18 – incredibly, the Bible reflection for today: “….…those who fear death remain in bondage all their lifetime.”  

These  words  were echoed in the hymn sheet at Lasantha’s funeral.

 Set my spirit free that I might worship thee

Set my spirit free that I might praise thy name

Let all bondage go and let deliverance flow.

Set my spirit free to worship thee.

Lasantha was a Christian who kept his eternal goal always in mind.  “… for what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul.”

He felt that there was “…  a calling that is above high office, fame, lucre and security.  It was the call of his conscience” that he followed to the end.  

No wonder he was fearless – and FREE!!!

Photo Credits :

http://www.sampsoniaway.org/blog/2013/04/17/clear-your-name-sonali-samarasinghe-challenges-the-president-of-sri-lanka/

http://www.lankastandard.com/2011/10/lasanthas-last-words/lasantha_face0/   last video condemning lack of media freedom

http://jessicaelgot.wordpress.com/2009/01/13/god-knows-i-tried-a-tribute-to-lasantha-wickrematunge/

Trust in God sailor and row for the shore …?

I ponder the situation the Catholic Church of Sri Lanka finds herself in as she celebrates Christmas, and prepares for two significant events in January next year – one secular, one spiritual.

A Presidential election just five days before a papal visit. That in itself is unusual for the Vatican steers clear of partisan politics and does not usually schedule visits within two months of an election.

So when, how and WHY did these diametrically opposed events collide?

Instead of spending the weeks leading to the canonisation of the Apostle of Sri Lanka in prayerful spiritual preparation, both Church and State are guilty of distracting Catholics from this holy event, and placing our beloved Pope in the tenuous and unsolicited position of being in the epicentre of an ugly and volatile political situation.

I am not privy to communications between Church, State and Vatican, but the visit of the Pope was officially confirmed in October.  It was very much later – when preparations were substantially underway – that the Presidential elections were announced.

We know when rumours surfaced of pending elections, the Church voiced her concerns but despite her pleas, a date was set just four days apart from the papal visit when the President had promised a much bigger window.

Broken promises to the Catholics of the country.  Nothing new in that. In politics, promises are empty before they are spoken.

It then seemed a foregone conclusion that the visit would be postponed. However the Cardinal announced it would go ahead with “Trust in God”.  Some priests advocated postponement to 2016 but they were like the Baptist, lone voices crying out in the wilderness amidst the silence of many.  Why did we not speak out and protest the broken promises? Perhaps we would have if the Bishops Conference had led the way but they passively asked us to trust God.

My question is not so much about trust (a sin qua non for people of faith), but about actions that are judicious and prudent, based on trust and faith.  Do we trust in God and remain in the eye of the storm? Or, do we follow the wisdom of the adage, trust in God (sailor) and row for the shore, away from the impending storm?   Do we trust that nothing is impossible with God and another opportunity for a  papal visit will present itself?  We would then be able to truly prepare spiritually for this holy visit instead of being caught up in these secular issues?

The question may be moot.  It may be too late to head for safe waters.  We may have no option but to ride out the storm.  Or we may just have a wee bit of time before the storm hits. Hence this letter.

Reverend Cardinal and the Bishops Conference – look up, look out, look about.  Take your bearings.  It is certain that what was calculated as a passing shower is turning into a storm.  The elections were expected to be a slight blip.  The incumbent President would be re-elected. Life would go on.  He would welcome our Pope and we would prayerfully celebrate the canonisation of the Apostle of Sri Lanka.

But things have changed.  A serious contender with promise and potential for the powerful position has come forward.  Election violence is erupting.  The outcome of a free and fair election is by no means a foregone conclusion.  Skeletons are coming out of the closet. Pandora’s Box has been opened.

Things are turning ugly with accusations being hurled at the defender of the post who will use fair means or foul to retain power – including exploiting the much awaited papal visit.  The Cardinal has had to request that campaign posters exploiting the visit be taken down.  Whether or not this is heeded is also a moot point.

The Church, instead of being able to prepare spiritually for this momentous event,  is now fully caught in the midst of this political turmoil.  The Pope is being placed in the untenable position of endorsing the outcome of ‘dubious’ elections as he will be the first Head of State to visit.  ‘Dubious’ for how can valid elections be held when a sizeable populace displaced by floods is struggling for survival and may not be able to cast their vote?

Instead of preparing wholeheartedly in mind and spirit for the visit of our Pope, Catholics, as part of the nation find ourselves caught up and distracted with manifestos and election ‘fever’.

Our population has never been magnanimous in victory or humble in defeat. Post-election violence is inevitable irrespective of the outcome.  His Holiness will arrive in a nation caught up in the post-election emotions of victors and losers. Punitive measures, retribution, has followed every election and this can be expected in a far more dramatic way than previously,  especially if an unprecedented third term is obtained by the incumbent.  If the challenger wins, retribution is likely to be slower.

Either way, there will be cries of foul, and calls for recounts.  Either way, it is very unlikely the dust or mood of elections will settle in four days.

So … ‘Trust in God’ and stay ‘put’ … Or  ‘Trust in God sailor and row to safe waters ‘ before the storm hits and politics and religion are caught up in one ugly twister.  For aborting the visit any time after Election Day will appear as a politically partisan decision either way.

Letting God work on us

Prayer has far more to do with what God wants to do in us than with our trying to “reach” or “realize,” still less “entertain,” God in prayer.

This truth eliminates anxiety and concern as to the success or non-success of our prayer, for we can be quite certain that, if we want to pray and give the time to prayer, God is always successful and that is what matters.

What we think of as our search for God is, in reality, a response to the divine Lover drawing us to himself.  There is never a moment when divine Love is not at work.

This work is nothing other than a giving of the divine Self in love.

The logical consequence for us must surely be that our part is to

let ourselves be loved,
—let ourselves be given to,
let ourselves be worked upon by this great God
and made capable of total union with Him. “

This reflection extracted from Ruth Burrows Essence of Prayer  so closely resembles my Advent wish ‘Receive His Love’  from a different perspective that I thought I would share it as my Christmas post.

My wish for my Christian brothers and people of all faiths is that we will let God – whoever you conceive Him to be – to work on us this Christmas so there is peace on earth,  good will and love amongst men.

See more at: http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-spiritual-exercises/an-ignatian-prayer-adventure/week-1/#sthash.4vWR0i0k.dpuf