June 4, 2008

Holy Places in the Caribbean

Geoffrey Philp
This is a picture of me that my wife took when we were in Colombia, SA. It is one of the few places in my travels where I had a feeling of contentment with myself and everything around me. It felt like an experience that Derek Walcott describes in Another Life:

Afternoon light ripened the valley,
rifling smoke climbed from small labourer's houses,
and I dissolved into a trance.

I've had similar experiences in Florida and in Jamaica. Sometimes the experience has yielded poems such as "everglades litany" (xango music, Peepal Tree Press) or "A Heart Sutra."

When I visited the Grand Canyon I had a feeling of awe, but I couldn't say that I had a feeling like what I felt in Neusa or in the Everglades. A feeling of oneness and peace in the natural world. A holy place.

I know that this topic is not often covered in many blogs or by our tourist boards who are more interested in promoting sex, gambling, and hedonism in the Caribbean. On the other hand, we are known as churchgoing, conservative people.

But I also know that the Caribbean is filled with places of great natural beauty that could induce these feelings. But do we think of our islands as holy? Are there liminal places in the natural world, especially in the Caribbean, where the Infinite comes through and induces a feeling of "completion and sureness"?

So, here are my questions to you, Dear Reader: Have you had similar experiences? If so, where? What did it feel like? Do you think others could benefit from going to this place?

And if they do exist, as the O' Jays' song made popular by Third World says, "Now that we found love, what are we gonna do with it?"


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


Anonymous said...

Oh yes! I have to stop and winnow through the moments. There was the day my partner and I were driving through Westmrld/Hanover/St.Eliz - to be honest, I don't know where we were -- and were driving down one piece o road when I glimpsed a broken down gate and the most welcoming expanse of pasture land I have ever seen, and I just had to go through the gate. Partner was not happy. But i kept going, and the road went on and on and on. And then it ended -- in front of the most perfect cottage with the most perfectly overgrown mounds of plants, some of which I had never seen before. And all you could see was the goodness of green land spread out all around, and it was dappled with dewwater; barely a breeze and not a sound except for bird or two, and cow or donkey braying in the long off distance. We sat on some rockstones for hours without speaking so as not to disturb the peace; took a nap and then drove away feeling as if we were leaving a dream. I wish I could find that place again.

Geoffrey Philp said...

Thank you, Longbench!

Its those moments that you can never recover and in this case, never find again...

But, yes, "the goodness of the green land"

I like that.

Rethabile said...

I've had and had (last year in August) a similar experience in the Quthing district of Lesotho, which is where my folks come from, and which is where I spent last summer (winter there).

The mountains and gorges are leave one with a sense of awe, in the spiritual sense. My favourite moment was waking up just before sunrise, and sitting outside to wait for it with a cuppa something.

I will try hard to write a post about Quthing, and about what one might see there (rare birds, iguanas, aloes that grow only in Lesotho, and so on.) Nice post.

"Afternoon light ripened the valley" sounds about right for Quthing.

Geoffrey Philp said...

Rethabile, the more you write about Lesotho, the more I'd like to visit.
The mountains would be a welcome change from flat Florida...