Sunday, September 8, 2013

Camellia on Moss

There’s a scene in the Japanese film The Munekata Sisters in which a father and daughter tell of being captivated by the beauty of light falling upon brilliant green moss dotted with camellias.

I have not seen the movie, but this scene figures prominently in Muriel Barbery’s novel The Elegance of the Hedgehog. Referring to herself as a camellia~on~moss sort of person, protagonist Renee Michel uses that image to symbolize her devotion to “the quest of timelessness.” Though an atheist in belief, Renee aligns herself in practice with mystics throughout the ages in her search for the everlasting or, as she puts it, “the contemplation of eternity within the very movement of life.”
“Why do we go in search of eternity in the ether of invisible essences?” she asks. “Those who feel inspired…by the greatness of small things will pursue them to the very heart of the inessential where, cloaked in everyday attire, this greatness will emerge.”
Most of us have experienced moments of transcendence. Perhaps a particularly stunning sunrise or mountain vista pulls us out of our reveries and awakens us to awe. It may be that a profoundly moving episode~~the pain of loss or the rush of love~~rouses a felt kinship with all life. Or perhaps grace simply arrives unannounced, or by conscious choice we open to it, and our soul lights up.
Renee refers to these incidents as magical interludes, in which “fleetingly, yet intensely, a fragment of eternity has come to enrich time…to set a jewel of infinity in a single moment.”

We’re locked up tight within ourselves and then, without warning, an opening appears and expands us beyond our former limitations. How exactly does this happen? Sages from across the spiritual spectrum tell us that eternity exists always, holding all our moments within its embrace. We are simply fortunate enough to sometimes awaken and enter into rich communion with it.
We are immersed in the everlasting, here, now and always. That we are often blind to this truth does not make Renee’s jewel of infinity less dazzling or us less worthy to receive it. We need only continue to develop our ability to perceive truly. While meditation, prayer and various other techniques and disciplines may assist us in this process, ultimately we need only recognize and wholly welcome what Renee calls “all these precious pearls in the endless movement of the river.”
Like this very moment, perfect pearl. Please pause with me now to fully savor it. And breathing deeply and in full presence, receive one last entry from Renee’s journal. “Eternity: for all its invisibility, we gaze at it.”
Allow your gaze to clear, dear reader. And may the camellias spread across the moss of your own precious life rise up, fresh and shining, before your eyes.


Loanne Marie

Here's a link to The Elegance of the Hedgehog, an elegant, camellia~on~moss kinda book.

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