It is a long time since I wrote. I was very busy with Pascha, singing at many of the beautiful Holy Week services. On Holy Saturday I had a wonderful warm and sunny day with my grandchildren and we dyed traditional red eggs. Many of the neighborhood children were facinated and surprised to see the method of “stamping” the image of a leaf on the egg. It was a joy to be with them. They would sit with me for a few moments to help with the eggs and then run off to ride their bikes or play in the lane. They were like the white butterfly I saw in my garden today, fluttering close to me for a moment and then flying off to attend to her right butterfly business.
On Sunday in the afternoon I went to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts,where an interesting exhibition on Pompeii is presently drawing large crowds of visitors. I usually try for a quieter time especially for exhibitions on ancient cultures as there are often small items to look at and the crowded galleries make it hard to see everything. I expect I will go back again several times to get a good look at the many interesting pieces. Pompeii is etched in our imaginations as it is the preserved moment of death and destruction of a large town. We can identify with the people trapped in a natural disaster. Part of the exhibition that made me stop and wonder over the fragility of the human condition were plaster casts of people caught in the moment of death. It has something of the flavour of a science fiction movie to imagine people suddenly covered with ash and preserved in their last moments. The nineteenth century excavator who found these remains observed that the bodies had disintegrated into dust but that the hard coating of volcanic ash had given us the shell of these “ghosts” perfectly preserved. He injected plaster to preserve the form and that is what we see today. I stood for a long time looking at these relics. Should I pray for the souls of these long dead people? Could I consider them simple plaster casts? Who were these men and women? Were they caught up in some family dispute? Were they worried about a business deal? It made me think how meaningless it is to dwell on these trivial things. Like a feather or a trail of smoke how quickly things we think are so vital can disappear. Such joy or anguish brought to ash in a moment. With notice or without, soon enough we will follow these souls wherever they may be so what is the use of striving and yearning, struggling and arguing over what cannot be.
And in the next room here was the statue of one of the muses, Polyhymnia. She is the goddess of lyric poetry and song and she helped me to write this.
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