Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Sound of Snow

This image of Kinkakuji, Kyoto's Golden Pavilion, arrived with holiday greetings from a Japanese law firm with whom I did intellectual property work in the bad and sad old days when I engaged in corporate employment downtown. Deadlines and court filings were piled up to the ceiling when I opened the envelope that December day and extracted the little jewel of a card, but in that precious fleeting moment, all the cares of the day passed away like smoke. I caught my breath in delight and knew that the image was a "keeper", something I would retain and cherish and revisit, time and time again.  The framed image is tucked away for part of the year, but here we are in winter again, and the print has come out of hibernation to grace the western wall in my studio again.

The original Golden Pavilion formed part of a retreat complex created in 1397 for the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitusu, who had just abdicated the throne in favor of his son. It contained a pagoda or two, living quarters, temples, a bell tower and formal gardens. When the old shogun died a few years later, the pavilion became a Zen temple in accordance with his wishes, and so it remains to this day, a revered shariden formally called Kinkaku-ji (Temple of the Golden Pavilion) or Rokuon-ji (Deer Garden Temple). Enshrining relics (ashes) of the Buddha, the temple exudes a timeless sense of peace by the lake in its exquisite garden setting. The present structure is covered in gold leaf and looks old, but is a replica erected in the fifties after a mad monk torched the original.

The companion piece in my studio at this time of the year is an old and fragile rendering of the same temple on rice paper, and it also graced the wall in my office downtown.  At difficult moments in my working life, the two images always conveyed peace and serenity, and now they continue to give both pleasure and peace here at home. Both scenes are beautifully rendered, and there are times when I can almost hear the snow falling and coming to rest among the trees.

There is nothing on my little gem of a card to indicate who the artist was, and I don't really need to know, but I wish I could say "thank you". It (the card) arrived at just the right moment, and it continues to bring pleasure now, many years later.


Sky said...

treasures like this one mean so much. it is beautiful!

One Woman's Journey - a journal being written from Woodhaven - her cottage in the woods. said...

They are beautiful..

Tabor said...

You were a wise old woman even back then, it appears.

kerrdelune said...

Crabby, stressed out and aging fast then, Tabor!

Guy said...

Hi Cate

An interesting post, a tragic end to a beautiful building but the term “mad monk” really conjures up vivid images. The ability of a small thing an image, song or phrase to lift our spirits and transport us briefly to another place or mood is a real blessing.

All the best.

Anonymous said...

What lovely images. I can't imagine you downtown in corp-land. No wonder you were crabby.

Mystic Meandering said...

Equanimous is the word that comes for me... Such beauty. And I love the title of your post! "The Sound of Snow" Definitely a "keeper" :)