Sunday, October 25, 2015

Portal Experiences

Within the church of San Pietro, Corniglia, Italy
I am so happy, this life is so beautiful and intriguing, there is no room for being sick . . . this is what I said aloud, as I coughed and convulsed, walking along the narrow main street of Vernazza, Italy. The crowds were out in midday bloom, laundry hung to dry from lines strung by windows above, shops lined every inch of the passage to the city harbor and of course no traffic and no motor vehicles. I walked and thought, this cough has been going on too long. 

The illness began in Venice and was so surprising because I have not been sick in 15 years; not even a cold. I had developed an attitude of impermeability to sickness. A friend I have been corresponding with in the USA, noticed I was not getting better, so wrote that I must see a doctor.

When I arrived in Vernazza, the apartment owners, a darling older couple, Giacomo and Maria Capellini, helped get me settled. Giacomo speaks English and when the discussion turned to a doctor, said that the clinic up the street was always open—including weekends. He walked with me and I was immediately seen by a physician who took tests and heard my descriptions, then pronounced I have bronchitis.
Now I am on antibiotics and should be much better in three days.

I have been having what I am calling “portal” experiences. These are surprising moments of occurrences that usher in such sublimity that some ancient remembrance of a pure state of bliss results. A few examples of the last few days: Being alone in a 500 year old church at night, long past the time when tourists were going to and fro. Walking up the steps into the dark cathedral and passing over the marble floor to sit at a pew next to a beatific sculpture of Jesus, arms outstretched with nail holes in the palms of his hands, looking down serenely. At his bare feet, candles still burning from earlier visitors. The silence so evocative, and on the wall nearby, a painting of the virgin mother, with the dove of heaven arriving to tell her of the heavenly life to grow inside of her.
Another time, just a couple days ago, in Monterosso, outside my room in the street, a man passed under the window, singing in such a marvelous and melodious voice. Then later, he came back, still singing. It awakened my higher sensibilities.
And of course, the church bells that ring, and sometimes their ringing takes on a melody.
So I finally wondered if my cough could possibly be a “portal” experience.
In some simple way, I think it could be. But I am more inclined to dwell on the sublime experiences that lead me to consider writing a book.

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