Sat in the Cappella del Mantovano (dedicated to la Madonna delle Grazie)in Calimera for a quiet half hour today. It was the siesta period and I remained, happily, quite alone.
I forgot to bring my camera this time. The last time I stepped into this chapel, my camera refused to work. Maybe the Vergine delle Grazie doesn't want to be photographed.
Glorious day for walking, sun and wind and the smell of olives on the old road to Calimera. I don't really know whether olives trees have a fragrance but I swear I could smell olive oil in the air as the wind whipped around me.
It was after 1 p.m. I was afraid the chapel might be closed. Everything else is at that hour. My heart sank when I saw the gate in front of the doors from afar. I nearly didn't bother going any closer but something urged me on. I'd like to think it was the Madonna but maybe it's just the reporter in my double checking things, you know?
The gate was closed but not locked and neither was the front door. I stepped in and too a seat. I sat down on one of the four narrow chairs in the back of the room, which had little plaques on them. They'd been donated in memory of individuals and each one had a little plank attached at the back so you could kneel there and rest your arms on the back of the chair -- like a pew.
So peaceful in there, not quiet though what with the chapel sitting on a fairly busy street not far from a roundabout.
But peaceful just being inside its thick wall and beautiful in a simple way, except for its intricately carved altar, almost the entire width of the room and reaching to the high star-shaped cathedral ceiling.
The room, only about 24 feet by 14 feet, painted all white; fresh flowers and votive candles at the foot of the altar; the altar table covered with a pure white hand-embroidered linen; fake red roses in glass vases another plastic spray of tiny red flowers on a shelf a little higher up; a fresco of Madonna and Child affixed to the building's wall and peeking through the open centre of a starburst carved into the stone altar; the blue keystone at the centre of the ceiling's star that reads 1696; the play of light from a pair of high-up facing windows; the coolness of the umber-coloured squares of stone under my feet; a broom and a plastic bottle of water at the back by the door beside the holy water font.
I closed my eyes and listened, my back pressing against the back of the chair, my feet square on the floor. I listened to my breath and I wait. I wanted to feel this place with my skin.
There was wind, strong wind that whirled and swirled around the Madonna and me. It sounded like a woman's sigh.