I thought that it would be helpful to couple my descriptions with pictures.
When I arrived in Bamberg, I traveled by taxi and had to pass this bridge. I hadn’t noticed when I lived there before all of these locks. This bridge had only just opened the winter before I left. In the taxi, I found myself thinking, Do people really leave their bikes in the same place each day? No, it isn’t that. After chatting with my dear friend, Irene, I learned that a tradition has begun of lovers and friends meeting at the bridge to place a lock with their names inscribed, thereby locking their love forever. It’s a beautiful thought, no?
Here is a close up of one of the locks. I just liked the colors: red and gold. It was one of the few that I saw as well with overlapping hearts. I wondered, Who are these people? When was this lock left? Is this a love of friends or lovers? What happens if the lock is cut away? What happens to the lock if the love merely fades away?
Here is a picture of my dear friend, Irene, and me on the lower bridge by the Altes Rathaus in Bamberg. I don’t remember ever having noticed while living there the use of chalk on the bridge. I thought the drawings were lovely. I liked the idea, too, of leaving one’s mark on something that has stood the test of time and supported the travels of others on their way to jubilation of one sort of another … as, even if they are on their way to a funeral, there is celebration of the life on has lived.
In this picture, one will see the incredible Will of the Emerald Isle Irish Pub. Chatting together, he reflected that the last time he made a “hot toddy”, my favorite drink, is was for me, about a year ago. I literally wept after drinking this as it was the symbol of homecoming for me just as I was about to leave it again. I even remember, years ago, what Will said when I first ordered a hot toddy. He was explaining what it was to someone else at the bar who asked after my order. He said, “It’s just an alcoholic’s lemonade,” or something along those lines. I remember being quite insulted. A hot toddy is the drink I have when I’m freezing (which is often), sick (not as often), or just feeling homesick. My mother would make these for me when I was sick. “It will sweat the cold right out of you.” Mixed in to the warmth liquid was something magical: love and a hope for wellbeing. I think that drink at the Irish Pub conjured all of that up for me. Funny how memory, story, emotion can all be caught up within something quite mundane.
So, from Bamberg, Germany to Roma, Italy I went. At the Ponte San Angelo, I saw this statue first and was captivated by its size and intricacy. I’ve been thinking about the service to God and people exemplified by work like this. Yes, certainly, there were wealthy men and families in history that patronized the arts merely to show their wealth and power. Still, I think, too, of the artisans who were commissioned in the creation of these works. There had to have been some among them who thought of their work as a greater calling of service, that of evangelization or reminders to the greatness and glory of the divine. There is something mystical in the creation of something beautiful, something inspired. It can itself inspire meditation and a deep internal search while considering one’s place within the world, relation to the divine, purpose in life, and the nature of truth. Yes, there is an appreciation of beauty for the sake of beauty alone. There is also an appreciation of beauty to replicate it. Surface and external acts. I am interested more right now in the meditative acts that are inspired through the crafting of the elements.