Lightening and Space

Lightening Tree

 

This morning I went up to the mountains around El Escorial, and found this lightening-charred tree. It’s actually only about 8 feet tall. The branches to the left seem to threaten it with further strikes.

Having been in and out of bed for a few days with some sort of virus, I knew that the quickest way to a full recovery was to get up into those wonderful oak woods on my own, to surround myself with nature and space. The summer holidays can be long and intense for the whole family, and it’s essential to get out alone sometimes to renew oneself – or lightening starts to strike inside the house!

The space and the mountains did their wonders, and I feel almost 100% again. The Victorians knew full well the role of ‘good fresh air’ in recovering from illness, they were wise.

Two things, short and long, both perfect:

1. A quote I found on the net…

“The peace I feel as I take this breath is how I measure my success.”

How liberating to forget fame, wealth, or endless possessions as yardsticks for success! … just moment to moment peace…

2. A Talk from Plum Village

This summer we were in the Plum Village summer retreat again, for the first time without the presence of Thich Nhat Hanh, the Zen Master we’ve been lucky enough to see speak and walk there many times. He is recovering from a stroke, and talks are now given by his senior Dharma teachers.

On the last day we say an extraordinary talk by a senior monk. I can’t recommend it enough. It’s called the “Swords of Wisdom”, and contains true wisdom born of his own amazing personal story of recovery from illness, and what he has learned as a monk and disciple of Thich Nhat Hanh over many many years. The first 16 or so minutes is a story for children (who are always invited to the first part of the talks in Plum Village in the summer retreat), the part for adults starts around 18m18s, here (though the kids’ bit is pretty good for adults too!):

North Devon Soul

Woolacombe Bay

Woolacombe Bay

Woolacombe Bay

Woolacombe Beach, North Devon. A vast expanse of sand, with chip vans strategically posted along the beach in summer, what a wonderful idea!

Dunes to climb, sheep moving in strange, slow scattered formations across acres of green valley behind, ice cream shops, Londis store, and family attractions.

All the worries of the modern world disappeared. Everything that seems so intense and pressing in Madrid evaporated. I ran ecstatic down the beach in the rain at dusk pursued by wild-eyed seagulls.

Easter Processions in Madrid

These images are from last Easter Friday’s procession, from the Nuestro Padre Jesús de Medinaceli church, in the center of Madrid.

Spain’s traditional Easter processions even amaze many Spaniards… they are without doubt extremely unusual. But very moving. There were probably a thousand people involved in this one, and many more thousands turned out to watch.

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