A few lines from Cordoba, Spain...
She walks with the authority of centuries, carrying history in her body. Each footfall; an echo across all time. The leader of the night tour – Luz, or Light of the Mezquita. El Alma de Cordoba – the soul of Cordoba.
The place is truly vast. Row upon row upon row of arches striped rust red and cream on columns. Such stupendous space! Additions added on layer by extensive layer as each ruler expanded this place-until 40 thousand worshipers could pray together. Imagine: forty thousand, One in spirit.
We begin in an outdoor alcove; ancient Arabic-carved timbers arcing overhead; a little film. After, we rise and enter the massive stone strewn courtyard. The full yellow moon rises, birds flit across the lit palms and splendiferous gold-lit mosque domes. My god. Breathless. Finally, we come to stand at the massive dark doors; portal to the world of the mosque. Something stretches within, and I almost bodily re-member the history of this place, layer upon layer. It is Halloween.
The doors, swinging open, expose the cavernous space. Utterly present as we move about, each area slowly illuminates. To reveal something that defies language. I have had the privilege of being within many mosques and ancient places; The Blue Mosque and St Sophia in Istanbul, the grand mosque in Cairo, the temple complex at Karnak in Luxor, the grandeur of Abu Simbel south of Aswan at the border of Egypt and the Sudan. I have breathed inside many churches and cathedrals with glorious architecture and art throughout Europe; from the reindeer tilework and frescoes in the far north of Finland to the Vatican city respectively. Most recently the achingly gorgeous glowing stained glass by Chagall in Zurich. All to name a very few. But this place, a UNESCO world heritage site, sings a deeper note to me. Of dignity and endurance, with its constant changes through so many, many centuries as men fought over it; conquered from Christians by Arabs, to be conquered yet again eventually by Christians. The center of the Inquisition's tower, by the way, is a mere few hundred meters away.
As always, when I visit these places, the vibration of Place ripples through my body. And I weep. Always. It is not merely the splendor and the manifestation of vision and effort. Rather, it is as if my own body knows these places, remembers them. Remembers our collective history. My human history. This place. This planet. Where, in an untold swirling aeon, I will recall and perhaps long to touch again; yes, I was here. On this planet. In space; In time. Part of humanity, with all our strivings and squabbles and foibles and errors. I was here.