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Ashes and Oceans

In this case, the ocean is the Atlantic and the ashes are witches. But burning witches is entirely another post...

The oldest house in Leiden was built in 1375. Pilgrims went through there in the 1600's, on the lam from religious intolerance in England. They weren't much liked in Leiden, either, so a lot of them were encouraged, sometimes vigorously, to pull up stakes and set sail to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the New World. Among them were members of my mother's family, ancestors.

So some of them lived in houses just like this one. The tiles in the floor are from 1375 and they survived 634 years because the floor was covered up and covered again as the centuries passed, ditto the walls, until a restoration architect moved in upstairs and told the city to go to hell, they were not going to tear it down and build an apartment building. He carefully peeled back all the centuries of "improvements" to find what you are looking at. The wall bricks are 1375 and the hearth is too, discolored by the heat of the years; all the furnishings are from the 1500's and early 1600's, Pilgrims would have known every one of them. A door used to lead to the room beyond the wall, it's to the right of the fireplace and was hidden for dozens of years behind another wall; at one time, these rooms were used as a butcher's meat locker so they just kept covering up layers to insulate it as best they could.








There was a lighted candle next to the hearth which was a totally juicy effect. To the right is a brick pillar which causes the rich amber light to stop, to the left is a much stronger white light coming from the daylight at an angle behind you, and washing out the candlelight in a bent vertical line which follows the line of the window sash looking out onto the street and lettting that cold light in... I've just never ever seen anything like this effect:








In theatre [and physics] we say that light radiates until it hits something, then stops and reflects or is absorbed. Here's the exception. Light radiating from the candle flame in a straight line? The chest going out of frame to the L was built in England in the 1670's.

It just boggled me, again and again, that I was standing on tiles that had been laid in the 1370's. I don't even know what a single century feels like, and here I was standing inside six of them. And more. Outside were shoppers carrying plastic bags and snapping their digicams, one was riding a green bicycle. Of course the window glass is not historical at all, too fragile to last that long! The sunlight was last Wednesday and the room felt like a million Wednesdays ago. And it wasn't a science fiction movie. At all.

First time in my life I've ever felt like this. As a history major, I studied books and went to museums, sure you can see old stuff there and read about 1558 and 1620 and 1732 and all those numbers. It's totally different when you stand here and let this room talk to your heart and recieve the people who passed along through here a very long time ago. And you do NOT do that by zipping into this tourist attraction and out of that one, snapping away and leaving. It asks for your time and yoour peace, like a relationship of love does, and it is so very much worth it...

Not very far from this house, wide parts of Leiden were pulverized by USA and British bomber attacks in World War II: mainly the train station areas and tracks, to deny the Germans the ability to ship parts for guided missiles up the coast and tanks and troops down the coast on flatcars. So that part is all new, it's a visual wrench when you see 16th-century Dutch houses suddenly stop and 1980's-plus constructions suddenly start.

So I'm happy this house missed all that... O, yes I know, there are churches in Holland predating 1375, lots of them if you want old buildings... but not many houses at all. This one is a gem.

In our time we tend to move very fast, sprinting in a frenzy through our days and lives. And that's a mistake. All these jewels of timelessness are here to appreciate and embrace, like people, if we make the time to do it. I felt that in Israel and Palestine last summer, partly because it is on a direct bridge from Kiota and with her... I feel it here now.

And I'm especially happy to make time for all of you too.

Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
lotus82
Feb. 22nd, 2009 05:49 pm (UTC)
You know, I can't help but wonder - how the heck did you manage to visit Palestine, given that it's a place that doesn't exist?
silverplate88
Feb. 23rd, 2009 01:05 pm (UTC)
Hmmm... I visited carrying one of these?

Well, not really. When I went through the Ramallah checkpoint, or at Bethlehem's, if I walked up with that... without wearing Israeli insignia... it would prob be the last act of my life lol

Interesting that your point was just made a couple of days ago, at an info session here in the International Criminal Court [I was tutoring some students from China in English, which is one of the two working languages of the Court.] One of their officials said that Palestine wants to bring a criminal case against Israel, but they couldn't, because "Palestine is not a state."

I guess it's all in your point of view. One of the IDF veterans I met last summer in Haifa was very vehement as she explained, "There are NO 'Occupied Palestinian Territories', it's ALL Israel!" She should know, she called in air and armor strikes against Jordan from the border, she was there and I wasn't.

The USA at least recognizes Palestine as having a de facto government, one part moderate and the other part terrorist... that's why Fatah, in the person of Abbas, gets invited to sit down and talk peace in Washington. With futile result after futile result, of course. Before that, it was Arafat. Waste of time, sure. But if Arafat was not recognized as head of government, who was he?

I just use the word Palestine and Palestinian and 'Palestine Refugee Camp' because that's how my friends and theatre students on the other side of the Separation Wall identify themselves and where they are forced to live. So that's where I was when I went there and that's whom I was with.

So I guess my question back to you is, are they mis-identifying themselves as Palestinian? What's the right term for them to use? 'People Conquered by Israel?'

Of course there were Jewish people [peoples?] for centuries, even millenia, before there was a State of Israel. Jews could not have been Israelis before 1947 because Israel didn't yet exist. Except as an idea.

Which is my reading of what Palestine is now.
naatz
Feb. 23rd, 2009 02:45 pm (UTC)
what's your take on the word 'Palestine'? Not the emotional attachments, just the word?

Just as a word? It reminds me of the word "Plishtim" {=Philistine for you} from the Bible. :P

Prior to the establishment of Israel, the whole area was called "Palestine"; even the Jews called it Palestine {palestina - פלשתינה. Interesting thing is that spelling and pronunciation have changed since then to palestin פלסטין, maybe in order to avoid the emotional of 'this is us' and create an artificial 'this is them'}.

Modern use of "Palestine" is only as an adjective. "Palestinian people", "Palestinian territories", "Palestinian government". Never as a real, concrete place you can stand on.

|Meduza|
silverplate88
Feb. 23rd, 2009 03:33 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Neta. "Philistine" is a word with a pejorative aspect in English, too, today meaning prejudiced person or bigoted one, used in connections to moral questions... and, that *is* interesting about the spelling and vocal changes to "palestin".

Certainly Israel is a real, concrete place I can stand on, since I did. And you and Lois do all the time. Certainly a lot of ink could be spilled [and has been, along with blood] over the question of Palestinians living on Israeli land or Palestinians living on Palestinian land.

I guess that it is axiomatic that you are not going to have a Palestinian government representing a Palestinian state unless / until that state is established on Palestinian land. Which... umm... was the whole point in Israel withdrawing its settlers from north Gaza? To work toward that, sometime?

Look what happened to that...

So what I get out of this is that the Palestinian people live on land that is owned by / controlled by Israel. Which won it by force of arms in many wars over the last 60 years. Wars, as I recall, which you never started as the aggressor.

The adjective part clears it up for me. Thanks, N, and thanks, Lois.
naatz
Feb. 23rd, 2009 03:45 pm (UTC)
Hey, you brought in emotional baggage into this, not me. :P

Yes, the meaning of "Philistine" in English changed to the worse, but in Biblical Hebrew {modern, too} it was a name for a nation {you can find more about the name "Palestine" in Wikipedia}.

See, but there IS a term of "Palestinian land", just not "Palestine". Israel retreated from some of the Palestinian areas, and they're controlled by the Fatah. It's just that in Hebrew, we call the places "Gaza strip" and "West Bank".

Settlers have been stealing a lot of Arab land in the West Bank. That's not 'winning land', that's theft.

|Meduza|
silverplate88
Feb. 23rd, 2009 06:51 pm (UTC)
Theft? So... ummm... it gets given back at some point?

Stealing under whose law? I thought the country encourages the settlers. Or it did, at one time. Can we remember Sharon?
naatz
Feb. 23rd, 2009 09:53 pm (UTC)
It's legal under no law. The Security office turns a blind eye to them, but it's very, very illegal.

|Meduza|
missingnothing
Feb. 22nd, 2009 08:06 pm (UTC)
Beautiful photographs, Brad. <3

I have never grasped anything that you speak of, but I hope when I do get to travel someday (hopefully soon) I'll be able to understand what you mean (I know what you mean, but I want to feel it).

Such wisdom. ^^
silverplate88
Feb. 23rd, 2009 01:08 pm (UTC)
Thanks, A. !

Lots to look forward to. The time will come when you will just BE here and in peace, and open yourself and take it in with all your senses. You're so good at that!
elvenforever
Feb. 23rd, 2009 05:56 am (UTC)
Time and peace are vital for so many things. Aging wine, for example (although some scientific folk have now found a way to shortcut that as well).

Once in awhile someone will ask how I feel about not working. I like it. All these years later, I don't identify who I AM with what I DO. Some folks never get the gift of making that vital distinction, and for that I am grateful for many years of disability.

I am glad you stopped somewhere and felt the roots. The roots of the earth, the roots of hundreds of years of precious lives who were born, lived, grew old and died in the places where you now stand. These things are left in the rocks and can be felt in the walls, but you are right; you must stop and listen to hear their voices.

You always seem to bring out the philosopher in me. Unfortunately for my LJ friends, spouting off about philosophy and spiritual things doesn't seem too difficult for me. :)
silverplate88
Feb. 23rd, 2009 01:10 pm (UTC)
Huh? It's not unfortunate for *this* LJ Friend! ;)
elvenforever
Feb. 24th, 2009 12:04 am (UTC)
*smiles* Thank you. I feel bad for writing about it so much; clearly it interests me greatly, but I think it must drive everybody else up the wall!
silverplate88
Feb. 25th, 2009 02:36 pm (UTC)
I don't like walls, especially not to drive up them lol
miafedup
Mar. 8th, 2009 05:34 pm (UTC)
Think of all the people who stood in that room and, just maybe, had the same thoughts you did.

silverplate88
Mar. 9th, 2009 01:00 pm (UTC)
And just maybe decided to start out and fly on their own voyages...

I think we are blessed with lots of kinds of vision to take us far away from our own spaces and times... blessed with those visions and cursed with feeling we have to be so busy we can't possibly stop for a moment to reflect on them.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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