Saturday, February 12, 2011

18 The Bridie Fire Spring
Sunday January 30, 2011:
The sun, lying low across the pavement, breathes warmly upon my legs, my face in shadow, is stinging from the bite of the February wind. We walk through the deep shade of the narrow streets to St Bride’s on Fleet Street.
Quickly, we make our way down to the warmth of the crip. In a small chapel, we sit on hard seats and listen to the building grumbling above our heads. Beyond the heating system, I am sure I can hear water running. It sounds very much to me as though there is a constant slow flow of water dropping into a deep pool below. Each droplet has its own voice. Each droplet is made big by the cavernous space surround the pool, by the stones and bricks that bind it, confining it to the darkness of the secret waterways of subterranean London.
Above me, somewhere in the main church, an organ is playing. I divide my hearing between the water flowing under cover of the rumbling boiler and the sweet sound of Handle.
Last time I was here, I danced by a springing a field. I wander where that is now.
My mind focuses on the unseen water and before me arises the mist of an energetic little spring, rising from between white shining rocks, held by dark green moss. I watch the progress of the water, the glittering droplets lit by the low spring sun until they glisten gold and red.
“No, that’s fire, not sunlight” I think to myself, watching the water arc amongst slowly rising yellow, gold and red flames. The water and fire begin to play with each other. Droplets leap high into the air, chased by teasing tongues of fire until the drops are beads, becoming mist and then steam and the fire is dampened, only to leap up again, stronger than ever.
I marvel at the phenomena of fire and water and the dance they are doing. Neither succeeds in resting dominance from the other but yet the dance is vigorous and earnest, and both elements definitely mean business. In the end, they dance together, harmonious in spray, mist and steam, in fire and heat. Fire snaps, and then hisses, pops and then puffs as water gets the better of it, only to leap up again.
Sharp businesslike footsteps upon the tiles break the spell. We’ve stayed too long. The church is closed. We must leave now. I nod at the water fire, the flaming spring and briefly speculate about the actions of opposites that have the potential to snuff out or evaporate the other.
“What can I learn from this easy coexistence?” I wonder to myself. There’s harmony in their dance. I like that.
“I know that my redeemer liveth”, sings a beautiful mezzo-soprano voice. Softly, the organ replies. , Together they dance, bowing politely to each other with every phrase and counter-phrase. I sing along quietly as I walk without haste from the church, out into the bitter February sunshine.


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