As a person suffering with some crazy and nebulous condition which consists of many strange symptoms including sudden loss of recall and difficulty with word finding, it makes writing a painful process. So, it was inspiring to me to see how Matisse never gave up. No matter what adversity his failing body threw at him, he found a way to continue to create and in so doing, he refined and refined his work down to the essence until he created his most stunning works.
Today I visited the chapel in Vence. I started the day at the Chagall museum looking at his religious works and his stained glass windows and then I travelled to Vence to sit in the chapel. I had hoped to photograph the windows, but I only got a few shots on my iPad before I was told to stop and my photography was not allowed.
It didn't matter, really. I bought all the postcards that the sisters of the rosary sell and I bought the book with loads of photos. But more, it didn't matter because I got to sit in that chapel. Matisse said that he wanted the chapel to be for people of all faiths. His wish was that those who entered would feel purified and have their burdens lifted.
I have to say that with the white marble floors and white tile walls, and two sides of the chapel composed of green, blue and yellow glass, the room was filled with light. As I sat there, something unusual happened - I cried. I was completely moved to be there. I wept and I prayed in the few moments of quiet between throngs of tourists. I believe most people came in, heard the story and moved on. I sat there for nearly 2 hours and I prayed for all those that I know are suffering and for those I love. And then I prayed for you. May your burdens be lifted and your heart be purified.
xx 1. I am grateful to Matisse. I am grateful that he never gave up and that he gifted the world with his most sublime and spiritually enlightened works in the midst of physical suffering. I am grateful for the beautiful works and for the inspiration he provides to me every day.
2. I am grateful that I was able to make it to the Matisse Chapel. It was on my bucket list and I just decided to spend some money and go. I decided Sunday and left late Monday night so I didn't have time to plan anything. I am grateful that a young man on the bus to Vence told me which stop was mine and helped me find the bus transfer direct to the chapel (I didn't know that I had to take another bus). It wasn't far so I chose to walk back from the chapel into the town of Vence and to enjoy some of the views.
3. I am grateful to CM- for recommending the Chagall Museum. I am not inclined to spend much time in museums in sunny weather but this was worth the trip and since the chapel doesn't open until 2:30 pm, I had time. I am grateful to AOO- who took me to see the Chagall windows in the Fraumunster Cathedral in Zurich. I am a fan of stained glass - in fact, before I became interested in art, I had always had a love of stained glass.
I remember that as a very young child, that there was something about stained glass that drew me, as if I had lived a prior life in a place with a lot of stained glass. I remember dreaming of a door with a rosette window when I was about 3 or 4 and having this recurring dream for years as a child and I felt it was a door to either a place I'd been before or a place I could go again. I don't know how to describe it but stained glass always felt like home.
I didn't know I would like Chagall's windows because I really didn't pay attention to the 20th century masters of stained glass. But witnessing the blue (I only remember the blue ones) windows was an amazing treat, indeed. I am so grateful to AOO who took me aside and showed me those windows in the midst of a very busy time for her. Little does she know that she created a love of Chagall in that moment. And, it was lovely to see his take on biblical stories and to see the many media in which he worked so masterfully. And finally, it was a blessing to again see some of his windows. There were 3 windows depicting creation and it was the perfect counterpoint to the simple and light filled Matisse chapel.
Joy - oh boy! What a day of joy this was! I got to see the windows of Chagall and to sit in the presence of Matisse's greatest work completed under physical adversity and then I got to go to Vence - St Paul and place a stone on Chagall's grave and topped it all off at the beach in Nice where I was able to sit and listen to the waves, swim in the surf and watch the sun set. It was a day which left me overcome with emotion and I found that for the first time in a very very long time, I longed to have had someone special with whom to share moments like these.
It was, I have to say, one of the best days of my life.
Oneness - Sitting in the chapel, I felt Oneness with Matisse and with all those for whom I prayed. I felt Oneness with both nature and with the spirit that animates her.
Service - I helped some tourists find the bus to take them back to Nice, when I came down from the chapel and I helped a couple find their way to the tram after sunset. And most, I prayed harder than I have in a very long time in that chapel. I am certain my prayers will be answered and remember: I prayed for YOU.
Some photos from the day:
Two years ago, I fell ill and could not recover. The stangest symptom in my bag of mixed side effects was a sudden loss of recall and difficulty with word finding. As a writer, this was most painful. A battery of tests proved no cause other than a nebulous but chronic condition. It is not life threatening, but it has been life altering. Perhaps this is why I have been so powerfully drawn to the visual arts with an intensity I had not previously known. When words fail, perhaps the essence can better be found in the visual. I went to the Matisse "Cutouts" exhibition in London to learn that he had also suffered from illness and it gradually robbed him of his ability to paint. Determined to create and to distil each image to the Truth, he turned his preparatory cutouts into works of art. These are amongst his most elegant: a simple line depicts the entirety of form. His final masterpiece was this chapel in Vence, designed in every detail by Matisse himself, as an act of Gratitude to the nurse who cared for him. Every surface reflects the light, just as Matisse reflected the Light of spiritual radiance, towards the end of his life. . . . Matisse inspires me to find new ways to work and to live. Perhaps it is his influence that, in some unconscious way, also had me begin to practice Gratitude on a daily basis and to find joy, humility and renewed faith along the way. It was a difficult trek to get here but of all the things on my bucket list, seeing this Chapel was most important, before I repatriate to Canada. . . . Matisse wished that people of all faiths would feel purified and have their burdens lifted in this chapel. I spent 2 hours in this small chapel, drinking in the light. And then I prayed for You. I prayed that your burdens be lifted, that you would never lose hope, that you will be ever resilient and that you will dwell in the Light always. Xx #lifeisbeautiful #inspiration #tenthousanddaysofgratitude
Vence St Paul