Sunday, September 9, 2012

Aotearoa: The Land of the Long White Cloud

“I continued to look at the flowers, and in their living light I seemed to detect the qualitative equivalent of breathing – but of a breathing without returns to a starting point, with no recurrent ebbs but only a repeated flow from beauty to heightened beauty . . .”  A. Huxley, from The Doors of Perception

I arrived in New Zealand in the rain, crossed the ferry from Auckland to Waiheke Island, and when I arrived to the home of my friends who’d invited me to make this journey, I looked over the bay through the trees and the sun began to break through the darkening  clouds for its final bow to end the day. “The light, the light,” I murmured to myself, and then I looked and behind me two rainbows arched over the forests.

Like the legend of the Maori, who’d journeyed through Polynesia to discover their paradise, Aotearoa, the long white luminesce of the clouds invited me  onto the shores of these islands of the Pacific.  


Maybe I’d traveled too quickly and too far, or maybe it was the sudden dive from the sunburnt plains of the Midwest into the verdant landscape of giant ferns and towering trees that had sprouted 2,000 years before my birth, but everywhere I walked in New Zealand, I found myself absorbed by the changing light.  How is it that we become too jaded to recognize the  revelation of light, of what gives us color and shape, distance and perspective?  


In the mornings, like a child eager to see everything all over again, I wandered out in the early light to observe the lifting of the veil as Huxley calls the way light reveals to us the miracle of perception, reminding us that it’s the world itself that gives us the powers of sight.

I lingered along the coastal bays and walked along the ridges and roads of Waiheke almost every day, letting the light widen and stretch my gaze. After months of twelve-inch screens, rectangular landscapes, and contained vision, I’d stare off into the sea, watching the clouds and the islands emerge and disapppear,  as if making up for my loss. 

 From the north to south, I walked along the cliffs and out onto the tidal sands; I followed the shadowing paths into the forests and out onto the shepherd's way.  These photos are a facsimile and what they reflect can not reveal the light as it startles and takes one into that trance where nature is revealed, not simply illuminated from sky and sun but from something living and looking back at us from within.
                                       “Awake fond one, the heavens are glowing.   
           There is no darkness love cannot light.”  Maewi Kaihu, Maori poet   

1 comment: