“Nativity” — a fresco by Bernardino Luini (Italy, 1485-1532), made around 1520-25.
In my eyes, this Nativity representation is most special because of the serenity that emanates from it and the gentleness in the gestures of all the ones present.
Being a fresco, the colours appear to us after so many years subdued, giving the scene a most serene and warm feeling. The use of the full spectrum of colours from warm to cold hues is remarkable in that there is no clash and everything remains soothing to the eyes.
And of course, the influence of Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) is undeniable. Da Vinci was a contemporary and a friend of Luini, and his influence can be seen through the softness of the facial expressions and the delicate touches of light. Actually both painters used similar technics, and until recently some paintings by Luini had been attributed to Da Vinci.
This fresco was originally in a private chapel in Milan. It is now at the Louvre, Paris. The photo was taken by me and the colours are exactly as you see them.
It is cold.
The flame of the candle shivers in the dark.
The Japanese incense releases its delicate fragrance.
I tighten the châle around my shoulders.
The window frames a dark sky.
The moon is a thin bowl,
and Venus shines beside it.
It is very quiet,
the moment utterly serene.
I anticipate nothing.
Inspirations: morning meditation, silence.
Yes. Slowing down. Going at a lower pace.
Looking, really looking around us.
And feeling also. Feeling the wind and immensity of the sky upon opening a window. Feeling the emotions, like a dress we smooth discreetly as we stand up.
Walking without running.
Taking in the taste and texture and colors of each dish when eating, and doing the same when cooking.
Listening to the other person, speaking with precision, pondering each word and adding comas.
It is not to stop time; rather, it is to live it fully.
“We live no more than one hundred years” wrote Sikong Tu at the start of a poem more than one thousand years ago.
We live but a speck in timelessness.
So, why not let our hair turn white and the soft breeze rustle through our clothes?
Why not let the moss cover the stone?
Let us not fret about the world, shall we?
Inspiration: Sikong Tu (China, 837-908), Tang Dynasty poet, known for his poems and for writing the Chinese poetry manual “The twenty-four styles of poetry.”
I read the poetry of hermits.
Pretending to be alone,
absent from this world
that is but a bowl filled with twirling dust.
Happiness is fleeting, love even more so.
Pursuing them, we trap ourselves
going around and around inside the bowl.
Better to just float about
and settle on a flower
just as its bloom retrieves into a bud-
returning to the origin.
I read the poetry of hermits.
When the world is harsh,
there is no need to get upset.
If when it rains, you take an umbrella;
if when the road is lined with thorns, you wear shoes;
then you can do the same when the world is hurting you.
Surround yourself with simple beauty,
a piece of music or even a few flowers will do.
Make a gesture of kindness,
smile to others and yourself,
remain alone in silence.
Why get upset?
On this early Monday morning, after dropping my son to school, I sit at a café and take the Tao Te King out of my bag. Five hundred characters speaking words of wisdom and serenity.
Around me people come and go. Phones are handled, money is exchanged, conversations oscillate in tones.
I sit alone with an espresso, a pain au chocolat and the book. Lao Tzu is so so far away in time and setting.
There is a slight chill in the air on this autumn morning. I wrap myself more comfortably in a pashmina, and open his millenary book. Serenity arrives.
I feel the flow as I lift the tiny espresso cup. I take in gentleness with the simplicity of my gestures and as I taste the comfort of chocolate. The presence of a few pigeons waiting for bread crumbs brings into my thoughts compassion and humble generosity.
Clouds are high. The sky is a pale shade of blue.
The daily hustle can wait.