Gathering stardust – living with spirit

by Barbara Maria Rathbone

Fu in quel dolore
che a me venne l’amor!
Voce piena d’armonia e dice:
“Vivi ancora! Io son la vita!
Ne’ miei occhi è il tuo cielo!

It was then, in my grief,
that love came to me!
And murmured in a sweet, melodious voice
“You must live! I am life itself!
Heaven is in your eyes!

In the past few weeks I have experienced the reawakening of something that had remained elusive to me for the last few years as life pulled me into a difficult and traumatic personal situation. While I struggled to cope there were certainly moments of clarity and hope but until the curtain had been drawn on it I could not see what it really was. The immense sense of loss I felt for the great joy I had been given only to have it brutally taken away was as palpable as the death of someone very close well before their time.  This joy itself had been hard won after years of struggle and was then so appallingly lost. I had called it my ‘rose domino’ moment –  inspired by the sight of hundreds of toppling red dominoes I had seen once on French TV – the sense of release – the culmination of building something into a moment of intense spiritual unity, freedom and relief. But it was gone.

Day after day I keened for its return but nothing came back and I had to painfully turn the leaves of time and deal with the immense void its loss left. However, as this blog might occasionally testify, I did feel I had some form of spiritual strength growing inside of me.  It was only when I reached the strange culmination of events earlier this year that I realised that the journey had elicited in me strengths I did not know I possessed. The only challenge that remained to me was to trust my capacity for love and to trust once again in all those I would allow close.  For me, to close off the spirit of love is to close off life and that spirit is the same that allows words and music to flow through me. That was the difficult part. However, in the last few months  I have  begun to see the light that had withdrawn from me return through the unquiet of my own noisy spirit – through my creativity, through these words I write, in the notes I sing and I play, and my courage began to return.

I saw the film ‘I am Love’ recently, Tilda Swinton and Luca Guadagnino’s tribute to classic Italian cinema, and absorbed its theme of the rebirth of  a suppressed identity through memory, desire and love. It takes its title from the aria La Mamma Morta (some of the words of which are above) in Giordano’s opera Andrea Chenier. The Countess de Coigny recalls that in the darkest moments of her despair and grief the voice and spirit of love awakens her hope.  If I had not clung to this hope myself my victory might have been unnoticed but the truth is that nothing dies to us, it is only born again in a new form.  Nor is true happiness  found in outer success, material possessions, laurels and rewards  – some things I have, others I did and lost, and some I have not at all. Joy is the triumph of creative journeying with every step laced through with the spirit and hope of love.  There is no ‘art’ in itself, there is just the art of living with creative imagination and without love, and the hope of love,  that cannot breathe. My faith has already proven itself – I am my own joy and Heaven is in my eyes.

“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.”

Jalal-al-Din Rumi