Letters from the Edge

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A Retreat in Old Age…

Only now, in the final flushings of vestigial old age, do I stand where I know I should be. Unlike at life´s other pivotal moments, when the self-searching produced only feelings of giddying emptiness and stripped valour-less achievement, I am today smugly perched in a seagull´s nest of a home, clutching to the top ledge of a vertiginous cliff face, itself part of the northern profile of that singular, honey-dipped, volcano-honed island called Madeira; and although a result of never-reluctant but still penurious self-exile, each newly awaited dewy morn, each reluctant recalcitrant night, I gaze serenely across the vast Atlantic rollers towards wizened Albion with the self-satisfying smile of the peaceful at heart, glorying in the knowledge that at last I have finally found both my metaphoric and geographic vantage point in life.  Isn´t it the perfect place for someone who has lived only on the periphery of other´s lives, one whose demands to be singular in his choices of religious,  moral and social mores, free from the shackling burdens of a familial embrace earned in return only distal respect, tenuous friendship and unflattering conditional love? 

This simple converted palheiro, euphemistically and euphoniously skirted by both a colourful rioting garden of mixed flowers, fruit trees and vegetables and a sometimes purring, sometimes roaring, sonorous sea, squatting in its quietude under a cinematic sky of a penetrating breathless blue, is both my home and destination. Not here the soft deadening fitted carpet of suburbia, not here the lanky marbled columns of urbania. Even though this island was founded by Christian brothers early in the 15th century, here you can still feel an essence of pre-Christian pagan days, when known as the Isles of the Blessed. Underneath its Christian brow, in its geologic pre-history, this is still where the land of Pan, in all its sensual forestal freedoms, gazes from high at the freshening face of wily deceitful Poseidon and smiles. In fiesta season under the rhythm of local musicians the pagan heatbeat can be felt again.

Here in the north we still eat what we dig and breed, not shop for; pay for in sweating human coinage rather than feudally borrowed bank notes. Here is a life of repaired sacks and dripping barrels, not cling film plastic wrappers and the ubiquitous cardboard of the supermarket. Here it is almost impossible not to feel close to God, to feel His breath on the wind, His gaze in the heat of the sun… here it is easier to stay in Faith…


About holytrinitychurch

This is the official blog site for the Anglican Church of The Holy Trinity, and the historic British Cemetery situated in the heart of the city of Funchal, on the glorious, Portuguese island of Madeira. It is hoped that this blog will encourage dialogue, however, comments deemed to be blasphemous, offensive or personal will not be published.
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1 Response to Letters from the Edge

  1. Reblogged this on holytrinitychurchmadeira and commented:

    The purpose of starting a series of Letters From the Edge is to encourage residents and visitors alike to discuss and explore their impressions and relationship with the Island of Madeira within a spiritual context.

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