April 20, 2009

elephant journal columnist Peggy Markel: the Delicious Ambiguity of Easter in Florence.

Delicious Ambiguity, Florence, and Easter, with Peggy Markel.

From my fifth floor window, the light was sweet and warm for an Easter morn. I set up breakfast where the view of the rooftops is even with where I’m sitting. My view is extraordinary…I’m between the Palazzo Vecchio of Piazza Signoria with my old friend the tower on my left, and the top of Chiesa Santa Croce on my right. The Duomo, although out of sight, is just a few blocks away.

My friend Laine came to tea. I had a lovely Easter cake with bits of dried and candied fruit, the natural kind, with no color, just chewy and delicious to eat with yogurt and strawberries. I have a passion for Maté these days and skipped the new box of English Breakfast that I just acquired at Mariage Frere in Paris. I will save it for a rainy day.

From the rooftop, we are privy to activity from the streets below. Suddenly, we heard a few booms! I said to Laine, “Oh that’s the scoppio del carro!” The Florentines have been releasing doves from the piazza of the Duomo for 500 years. We hear successive boom and flaps of wings, but no doves fly high enough for us to see. The neighborhood pigeons were no doubt ruffled and alarmed.

We discussed a bit of doom and gloom in the brightness of the room while hopes of renewal were being blasted about. I thought not only about the present situation of many, including myself—but about my hopes for the government. I don’t remember in my adult life ever really consciously thinking about the government. Yet, I see this shining possibility that we can navigate rough waters for real change…because change is happening, whether we like it or not. It’s most definitely a time of transformation. Our collective goose is getting cooked. I prefer a leader who knows how to meet those challenges as something savory and delicious, as opposed to gnawing on something dry and brittle, with little or no possibility left for succulence. If certain agendas are not passed, if opposition is so strong that we cannot make our goal…well, this is not a football match. We should not be in competition with ourselves. We need to squeeze through the eye of the needle. There is no room to bring all of our old baggage through. We need to come together, closely. Otherwise, we won’t make it.

I prefer the unknown, full of potential and possibility, even if I have to pare down and, God forbid!, change some of my habits. I often ask the question, “What wants to happen?” What sort of collective manifestation can we create? Not just what do I want. I want the best of what life has to offer for everyone. Not giving into fear and being overtaken by negative mind is a start. What is our destiny if not what we make it?

The guidelines are simple. Be generous and kind and the world will unfold in front of you. Laine brought a sweet card with a few poignant quotes:

“Live in the faith that the whole world is on your side so long as you are true to the best that is within you.”

Some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle or end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what is going to happen next…Delicious Ambiguity. I am savoring this moment as delicious ambiguity. Along with the smells wafting up from all the kitchens below of sautéed onions, no doubt a pork ragu for homemade tagliatelle, perhaps a buttery Easter cake in the oven.

I’m sitting in the historic seat of the Renaissance, where creating a new world view was carried out by artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, and scientists such as Gallileo, poets like Dante. Why can’t we lift up the stars and our minds and hearts now and look beyond the veil? The streets of Florence are empty. It’s ‘l’ora di pranzo’, the midday meal, and this is Pasqua. I imagine the families inside sitting together at the table watching generations get old and babies grow up, spooning up sweet affection for all gathered around. There is a hush over the town, except for the noise of knives and forks, clamoring dishes and occasional laughter.

Wherever we are going, I hope we bring along at least some time-honored traditions. Laine phoned later to say the doves found the right perch after the second boom. All will be well. Thank goodness. Let’s leave gloom and doom to the dark ages. We are poised for yet another spring and its promise for enlightened living. May all beings be happy and well fed with love. May our cups always be seen at least as half full, if not running over.

Buona Pasqua de Firenze. – Peggy Markel.

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