In this sense our trying to choose between the four sculptures that had been set before Heather and I, became one of the loveliest experiences of our enchantment in Venice. The experience of choosing between the sculptures was unfolding slowly and gradually. I was drawn inwards by the beauty of what we faced, which evidently reflected something of the artist's beautiful soul.
The shop owner had taken us to a room in the back of the store where he had a box set up, draped in black velvet. He put the four sculptures on them. Several spotlights shone on them from above.
"A hundred thousand Lire each, or two hundred and fifty thousand Lire for all of them together," he said.
"First we must choose," said Heather.
If it had been up to me the choice would have been easily made. There was something magical about every one of them. Actually, it was up to me, and I was inclined to buy them all. One of them reminded me of our day at the SandCastle, the last day that Heather and I had shared. Looking at the sculpture, looking at Heather, I felt the same feeling again. God knows why. Maybe it was the way it sparkled.
With the sculpture standing between us, we were facing one-another with the same glowing sense of excitement that had stayed fast in my memory. It was a deep-reaching, gentle feeling, a mixture of peace, joy, and childlike anticipation of good things to come, mixed with a daring to reach for it all in one single grasping.
In the store the first night came to mind that Heather and I had shared. It happened on the very day we met, shortly after dinner in Elizabeth City. With Tony glued to his ball game broadcast, it seemed both logical and exciting to pay Heather a visit. Oh how unprepared I was for what became an emotional explosion that made no sense that day, yet seemed totally natural. Maybe she wanted to hear me say, 'WOW,' once more, as I had greeted her earlier that evening when she stepped out of the elevator. And I had meant it then, too. This time the word, wow, had been too 'small' to do justice to the power of the moment.
"The door is open," she said when I knocked. "I thought you might be coming," she added.
Oh, wow! There she was as naked as she was born, standing like a Greek goddess near the balcony door with the sparkling lights of the motel's neon sign dominating the scene behind her. This was heaven. As if someone spoke, the words of a hymn came to mind.
"O Jesus, our Exemplar, thy works, now understood, reveal their full effulgence, in Love's sweet brotherhood."
Oh yes, Love's sweet brotherhood was unfolding indeed. I knelt before Heather in this magical moment, spontaneously, and kissed her vulva that had become the center of the vista, surrounded as it were, with light.
She seemed not to have expected my response. Neither had I imagined such a thing to be possible. Still, she allowed it to happen. Within moments, she even encouraged it further, as if to increase the 'reflection and refraction.'
While remembering that night, standing with her in the small art store in Venice, I remembered a painting of the same type of scene that had become so amazing that night. I had seen this painting in a gallery in Washington. It presented nearly the identical scene. Only the background was radically different in the painting. In the painting a great room dominated the background, in which a festive social event was in progress. Most of the foreground of the painting was taken up by a richly embellished noble woman. She was painted with her lower garments parted in front of her, and a well-dressed gentleman kneeling at her feet, kissing her vulva with apparently great satisfaction.
What the painter had painted might have been a timeless scene that would likely have also been understood in distant ages long before the time in which the painting was done, just as it probably reflected what in modern time every one of the countless men would desire who routinely crowd around the stages of the strip bars in so many pubs around the world, which their smiles allude to.
On our night in Elizabeth City, long after the grand kiss ended that had been not a small event indeed, as in the painting, when we came back to Earth, I dared to ask the question that had puzzled me all the way through our 'happening,' as to what miracle had brought it all about.
Her answer came with a smiled that solicited another, wow! She pointed to the table along the wall. Among the usual stuff, I noticed a Bible open.
"When I saw the Bible in the drawer," she said, "I remembered a friend telling me not long ago that I should read 1st John when I am lonely. To my surprise I saw many passages underlined with a highlighter pen, in the book of 1st John." She showed the underlined passages to me:
"God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God."
"When I read this," she said with the same smile as before, "I could only think of you. All that I could think of was you. I prayed that you would by some miracle come into my room. And then I noticed this further passage on another page:"
"And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also."
"Aren't we brothers then, in the family of man?" she added. "I wanted you to come so badly that I got fully undressed for the occasion. I guess one needs to acknowledge the process that one believes to be true. And there you are! I didn't even have to wait long. It all happened on its own, as if Mind is reflected in mind, Love in love, Truth in truth."
"Mind is reflected in mind," I said quietly. "God is incorporeal, but is reflected in man and the Universe. The 'Intelligence' of the Universe is incorporeal. The divine is incorporated in Us and the Universe. We are its shape, beauty, sublimity, its Spirit manifest in its myriad forms of expression. Sex is an element of the divine, and an amazing one at that. It is an aspect of the all-encompassing dynamics of Mind, and Soul, and Life, and Love. It manifests Truth, and Principle, and Spirit. It has its roots in all of these. It is a corporeal expression of the infinite One. That's what my friend Steve says it is. But what does it mean?"
"This, we have yet to discover," she said with a grin.
The night that we spent together in Elizabeth City became an aspect of the universal kiss that didn't fade in the dark, but retained its sparkle and stayed alive for many days. In this sparkle, the distance that is deemed to be civility, became reduced to zero, while the natural zero-distance between heart to heart was laid bare before us that night. We had touched the zero-distance love that the poets sing about in terms of the kind of love where all love's colors melt into a symphony of color.
That's how the glass sculptures came to light in my thought in the art store in Venice. Our days after Elizabeth City had sparkled in the same way as the glass sculptures now did, to some degree, which they could only hint at, since nothing would ever match those momentous showers of sparks from those days in the past, which had been flowing so freely in their innocent brightness from within.
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