Sunday, December 09, 2012

The Sound of Snow

This image of Kyoto's Golden Pavilion, arrived with holiday greetings from a Japanese law firm I dealt with when I did intellectual property work downtown years ago.  I remember the day it arrived well - deadlines and court filings were almost piled up to the ceiling in my office when I opened the envelope and extracted the jewel inside.  Some bright spirit had patiently assembled the card by hand, fixing the image to the front and tucking a holiday greeting in both English and Japanese inside.

All the cares of the dismal day passed away like smoke, and I caught my breath in delight, knowing that the card was a "keeper", something I would retain and look at, time and time again.  The image is framed now and tucked away for a goodly part of the year, but it has come out of hibernation to grace the western wall in my studio during the winter months.

The original Golden Pavilion was part of a retreat complex created in 1397 for the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitusu, who had just abdicated the throne in favor of his son. The grounds 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 in its exquisite garden setting.  The present structure is covered in gold leaf and looks ancient, but is a replica erected in the fifties after a mad monk torched the original.

The companion piece in my studio during the winter months is a fragile rendering of the same temple done on rice paper, and it also graced the wall in my downtown office once upon a time. 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 drawn, and 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 in my harried corporate life at just the right moment, and it continues to bring pleasure now, many years later.


Debbie said...

Smiling warmly your way this morning . . . thank you for sharing both of these cards and what they mean to you.

Much love beaming to your heart from mine. . . .

Kameshwari said...

The artists who created the images managed to transport me to a lofty place, far away from my daily living among juniper and adobe.

Dear Cate; for as long as I've been following you, both at Juicy Crones and here at Fields, I always assumed that your professional life was that of an English teacher. Your writings are always elegant and grammar is gorgeous. In my imagination, I could see you as a college professor, helping a class filled with third year students to become hot and inspired with using the English language. Your daily blog proves that you have great mastery of this language.

Jennifer said...

That picture is so beautiful I set it as my screensaver. Thank you for sharing this!