Monday, 17 June 2013

Phoenix Fire

I watched, I prayed, I stood silently in the rain, that shining January night. I bowed my head as Churchill's coffin glided solemnly by, passing beyond in sacramental mystery, an uncanny, ungraspable symbol of change - this slippage of time, epochs, empires and lives.

I took my stance with the crowd, the past floating up to face us in the mist. And life felt good again. We were taking part again - high national drama surrounding us, archetypal struggle enfolding us, grappling until dawn 'against powers, against principalities, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places,'

I thought of my childhood in France - then war, defeat and miserable occupation. That was when I fell in love with Churchill, in July 1940, when things were at their worst and resistance seemed so futile, so absurd. I fell in love with De Gaulle too. How could I not? He made me proud, that wretched summer, to be French. Emmanuel was the only other who gave me pride. And I never told him. I thought there would always be time.

But Churchill and De Gaulle! Such a pair of arrogant and pretentious individuals, though that counts for nothing, surely, compared to what they incarnated and articulated - the deepest, most sacred aspects of their country's history and soul. They were legends. They were Kings.

We met for the last time, our little cell, the night the Wermacht brought fire to the Unoccupied Zone. We knew our world was at an end - the great round table, the upper room; our chapel by the river, between the trees. On the wall, behind Emmanuel's head, was a tapestry I had not seen before, a mighty Phoenix rising in gold and silver from the ashes and flames.

Emmanuel stood before us in the candlelight, Tricolore in one hand, knife in the other. And the flag was cut - solemnly and sacramentally - into seven shining pieces.

"Keep these fragments close to your hearts. One day we will meet again, here or elsewhere. The flag will be made whole. France will be restored."

At midnight, when the soldiers came, we dispersed in seven different directions. I ran and ran, light sparkling my eyes, wind streaming my hair. I had only one aim. To arrive in England. To take my stand alongside Churchill and De Gaulle. Against physical. moral amd spiritual wickedness.

I heard the gunfire. I heard Emmanuel fall. I stopped running. I had ran out of time.

It took me all night, crawling back to where he lay. But I came too late. He had passed. And all those things I wanted to tell him, needed to tell him ...

I slid my hand into his jacket pocket, dragging out his fragment of flag, red and white on one side, a drawing in gold and silver crayon on the other, a Phoenix rising from the ashes and flames ...

And the face of the Phoenix was my own.

A shock of spray and street-light dazzle dragged me back to 1965. Returning slowly to our hotel, the Edward the Elder, I meditated on those days and about the better world we hoped to conjure from the flames, a world where individuals shine like stars at the heart of our communities, a world of creativity and high imaginative aspiration.

It feels like it's slipping through our fingers now. We live today in a world of infinite choice, but one that more and more feels emptied of meaning - hollowed out and stripped down - denuded and divested of mystery ...

A world without Kings.

I flicked on the tablelamp and took a pencil and paper from the drawer. And I sat in silence, wondering how I might continue the fight, take it onto a higher level, convey just a little of what we stood for, what we believed in, what we fought for - the only things that really matter - honour, justice, unity and love - la Voie, la Verite, la Vie.

For those already fallen, for those living now, for those yet to come ...

Sweet Lily Rose Art

Romana de Crecy, Cri de Coeur (1991)


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home