Sunday, August 12, 2012
The narrow winding road that led to the castle was cut into on one side by the curving line of the ocean. On the other side was a long rolling field with sheep happily lingering and cows that curiously seemed to be nodding their heads at us. Butterflies and tiny birds flew about our heads fearlessly.
As we started our walk, Peter pointed to a sign with an arrow: “The Castle: 1 mile.” The air was brisk, cool and windy, the skies moving, open, and moody with thick dark clouds. Every once in a while the sun would shoot through the clouds, piercing our numbness, flooding us with streams of light. I could imagine why most of the 150 inhabitants of the island believed in God. The beauty permeated every cell of my being.
We walked most all the way without talking. It did feel sacred, and natural. We followed the gentle curving path to the castle in the distance and walked along the road with others who had come there too…there was an older couple walking their sheep dogs, a young family with a baby, and a few individual ‘pilgrims’ who seemed to be like us—trusting that there was a good reason to be here. Peter would occasionally point to the horizon line where the endless sky met the blue gray waters and then sweep his hand over the whole vista, and sigh.
I was quiet. Something was happening within me that I couldn’t find words for—maybe it was a little whiff of hope or maybe it was true that on this holy island the dividing line between worlds—between the living and the dead, between now and then, between heaven and earth— was thinner and the beauty made it all somehow good. Suddenly it was as if all my pores and synapses were opening up. I didn’t feel sad or mad or guilty anymore, just a feeling of being one with it all; the beauty and the poignancy permeated me right to the core.
As we walked, Peter’s hand brushed against mine a few times. It felt like an invitation, and I took it. Our fingers interlaced, and our feet walked in rhythm. By the time we got to the castle they were just closing for the afternoon, so walked out to the castle garden instead, sat down, and watched the evening sky changing colors over the silhouette of castle.
“This place is amazing.” I whispered to Peter. “The curving road to the castle, the three of us being together again—it’s all so unreal.”
“The castle is just a museum, someone’s home once upon a time.” Peter said. “One of the few castles that were never actually used to defend or protect. It’s a symbol, I think.”
He was right; he was seeing symbolically. And though we weren’t “home” it still felt like a good sign—we were circling the center, and perhaps we would all come back home when we were ready.