Barry Lopez and the Himalayas

29 November 2019

I first learnt of Barry Lopez maybe 10-15 years ago while reading up on issues related to animals & conservation. At that time I was trying to read “Of Wolves and Men” by him but somehow his language eluded me.

But still, each time I visit a bookshop, his name would catch my eye and I would find myself saying an inward hello.

The day after this new moon, an interview of Barry Lopez by Vincent J Miller popped up on my FB feed. So I read it, counting on the fact that words from an interview might be more accessible to me.

It was a long interview called “The Literary Landscape of Barry Lopez.” And every word from him felt like God speaking to me!

After I recovered from the near spiritual experience, I felt compelled to share Lopez’s interview with two friends. One is still on his pilgrimage at La Verna where St Francis of Assisi received his Stigmata and the other will be taking a retreat in a Cistercian Monastery two days after I leave for Nepal.

The La Verna pilgrim texted back to say he would be drawing on Lopez’s interview to close his journey.

My friend sent me this from La Verna after I shared Lopez’s interview with him.

The Cistercian pilgrim thanked me for the share and he’ll be reading the interview as part of his preparation for the retreat.

Their responses rekindled my courage to read Lopez, especially now that his new book “Horizon” was available at the Jurong East Regional Library.

I was completing some errands at Clementi Mall when the thought of borrowing “Horizon” came. I resisted the urge to make a reservation and told myself if I was meant to read it, it would still be there by the time I took the train and walked to the library.

When I got to the library, I looked up “Horizon” on their online catalogue & noted its call number on paper.

As I was walking to the lift and trying to visualise where the shelf that held “Horizon” might be, I asked a library staff for direction.

“You just take a seat & wait here, I’ll bring you the book,” the young lady offered enthusiastically!

In no time time she was back. She smiled triumphantly as she placed a beautiful blue book in my hands.

When I opened the book, the first thing that greeted my eyes was a painting with the Himalayan Mountains as its backdrop. The painting, known as “Remember,” was by Nicholas Roerich, who spent time among the Himalayas.

I’m heading for Nepal in a weeks’ time and I couldn’t have hoped for a more suitable book to begin this trip.

And this whole experience feels that forces beyond my understanding were collaborating to assist my learning.

So I wish for everyone the grace to remember past aspirations & the faith & patience to wait for the alignment of causes & conditions to bring their aspirations to fruition.

The scallop shell which held the tea light for this new moon’s mandala happens to be a symbol of pilgrimage in the catholic tradition. All paths centre on the Divine.

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